Winning could be losing

Posted 11.10.13

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In the last several weeks of the recently completed campaign, I was surprised to have my granddaughter, who is in Grade Three, explain the election to me.

She described the two candidates in her ward, based more on their personalities than on issues, but she could identify and name them, and she volunteered a prediction based on her idea to count lawn signs and project the vote from the number of signs.

Every few days she would update me on her sign count (going to school, driving with her mom). Stefan Psenak was well in the lead, according to her numbers.

She had met both Mr. Psenak and Jos&eac,ute;e Lacasse during their door-to-door campaigning, and had obviously listened carefully to the conversations around the dinner table. She paid attention to the news her parents were listening to, and being tri-lingual, was able to source a lot of views, which most Grade Three kids might not find interesting. She could identify both Psenak and Lacasse from a block away (as I witnessed).

Mr. Psenak was her choice. But it was quite revealing that when I asked if she wouldn't support "another girl," since she's a girl herself, and girls have to stick together, she was clearly conflicted. She certainly -- even in Grade Three -- supported the idea of girls sticking together. But she also on some personal level responded better to Mr. Psenak, as someone she could speak to easily. She knew this was important for a councilor.

As for the mayor's race, she approved of Mr. Bureau. I suspect he reminded her of a grandfather! Again, someone approachable, Mr. Bureau would listen to her, unlike many adults.

Being a journalist, I tried to listen to as many people as possible prior to the vote, all to identify their issues. I must say that this grade schooler had a better grip on candidates and issues that many of the adults I listened to. You can see where I'm going with this.

Less than half the eligible voters took the ten minutes to vote. This has been a trend, and this campaign apparently did nothing to stem that trend. No candidates galvanized the electorate. No one spread a real hope for something better, and the dismal voter numbers reflect that.

The election was left to special interests, to the groups who could get their vote out. The campaign platitudes seemed to turn as many people off, as interested them.

The pundits are finding this voter decline a recipe for doom. We're hearing plenty about the slow demise of Canada's democracy. But that's today; that's you and I. Tomorrow is in the hands of the Third Grade. And it seems our democratic traditions might have a chance.


Copyright © 2013 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/11.13