Again, I am mostly avoiding talking about the ongoing election on this site, partly because my time is limited due to (totally partisan) election work I have been doing, and partly because I want to keep this page less about fighting (depressingly partisan) fights and more about building local community. I am reserving most of my regular political (unabashedly partisan) rants for my Facebook Page, so if you care about my (hilariously partisan) opinions on “the horserace”, you can go over there. I do, however, opine here occasionally on the election as a process, and what it means for the state of our democracy.
Two quick points on that:
The politics of fear and division are rising in Canada in a way I have never seen in my (admittedly-short 40-year) awareness of politics. I draw a distinction between “Vote for us because our opposition’s policies/ideas are scary” and “Vote for us, because we are the only ones who will protect you from some dark-skinned boogeyman who is hiding in the shadow but wants to murder your family”. These are two very different uses of the term “fear”. The former is drawing a distinction between people running for office, and is the root of the reason we have elections. The second is fear-mongering, and a dangerous erosion of civil society.
When we draw these types of distinctions between groups of people, it seeds a garden of hate towards all identifiable groups, and supports a volatile coalition of ignorance, xenophobia, religious intolerance and outright racism. Done well, it allows the target voter to pick their own boogeyman to fill the gap (remember how Sikh and Hindu people were attacked in the United States in the immediate aftermath of 9/11?) and can target specific voter groups. This stuff is the specialty of Harper’s new adviser, Lynton Crosby, and I am chagrined that it is working.
My second point is that you, before you vote, should take a bit of time meet those vying to be your representative. You should ask them questions, and you should hear answers. You should make the connection so that after the election you can contact them with your concerns or ideas and start with “we met at…”. A few of you have reached the level of local fame that they can just put a few silly questions on a blog and expect answers. Others can attend one of several All-Candidates events, where you might be lucky enough to get a question in, and may or may not get the answer you were looking for.
This is why for the last few years, through Local, Provincial, and Federal Elections (excepting the last one, where I was an actual candidate!), I have worked with the NWEP, NEXT New West and Tenth to the Fraser to put on a different type of All Candidates Event. We have had a comedy night, a Jane’s Walk, a Cocktail Party, all with the desire to break the partisan and confrontational mould of the typical debate, and bring the candidates together in a social setting so that voters could get to know them better. We are doing it again this year, and we are doing it on a boat, so the candidates cannot escape your questions!
Next Tuesday, we will set sail at 6:30pm and do a 90-minute cruise of the Fraser on the MV Native. Cocktails and canapé will be available. We will be strictly limiting the speechmaking to only a few minutes, and will instead rely on the candidates and participants to mix and mingle for the rest of the cruise and schmooze the fickle voter (you!). We emphasize that this is not a confrontational environment, and heckling or badgering will not be tolerated. The Captain has the authority to throw jerks in the brig for the duration of the tour, so no candidate should fear appearing here. Unless they are jerks, I guess.
We need to pay for the boat and snacks, so the tickets are $15*, and tickets are limited by lifeboat capacity, so you need to go on-line to buy them. This will be a unique (and very #NewWest) event, you should join us, so you can also say “I knew them back when…” Tickets here.
*Hey, we want to be as inclusive as possible, because money should not be a barrier to participation in democracy-building events. So an anonymous donor has agreed to contribute a few dollars to buy tickets for some people who feel $15 is a barrier to their participation. Please drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know someone who might want to take advantage of this offer.