Most of you know I’m a vocal lefty. I believe in social programs and earth-friendly economic development. I don’t think capitalism, as it is, is sustainable. And I think governments can/do/should have tremendous impact.
With such lofty opinions bobbing around in my head, it’s weird that I haven’t (hitherto) really monitored municipal politics. While living in Toronto, I voted against Rob Ford like any good pinko, but never bothered to get to know the issues in my own ward.
That was Toronto. Elmvale feels like a whole other plate of spaghetti. With just over 2,000 people, every vote counts and every issue is personal.
So I was excited when my elderly neighbour popped by one night to ask if I’d volunteer for the all-candidates meeting she was organizing.
A week before the event, JF and I sat with three community leaders – all seniors – and a former local mayor around Heather’s table, sipping water out of antique sherry glasses and discussing the format for the meeting. We decided to have attendees write down questions addressed to a category of candidates. I was chosen as one of two impartial question sorters.
Tuesday night, we set up tables and chair as hordes of people descended on the community hall. About 50 questions were submitted. Some were as eloquent as “why do you suck?” and others were more thoughtful. They covered everything from speeding and water quality, to economic development and demographic change. At least half a dozen were about the controversial Midhurst Secondary Plan.
I left feeling totally inspired, my head full of opinions. Who knew I harboured a secret passion for road quality in north Springwater Township?
But one thing about the whole thing made me sad. Easily 80 per cent of the people who came were over 50. JF and I looked like unusually political spring chickens.
My last thought, as I pulled up the blankets in bed that evening, was that our generation needs to get its shit together. The fact that so many of my peers can’t be bothered to vote – to harness one of the most accessible vehicle for change – makes me sad for the future.
But at least I can defy the norm. You can bet I’ll be more active during the next municipal election.