An election about...
Gimme, Gimme and hurt feelings

di Joe Volpe del August 30, 2021

TORONTO - I respect anyone who puts her/his name on a ballot for election. It is rarely a soft exercise; most often it is at best “rough and tumble”. Our democratic institutions need people prepared to take the hits on our behalf. Democracy is not a process for the feint of heart or for those easily offended.

One should still prefer to see an element of courtesy in the “rough and tumble” of politic. After the “trash-talking” and fighting is done, the victor(s) will still have to demonstrate statesmanship.

Some members of the Press have taken a “sucky-pooh” attitude to crowd engagement on the election campaign trail. They have probably not been out to a sporting event. Life is not like a social media where one can employ the self-satisfying tactic of “blocking” anyone whose “tone” you may find unpleasant.

We/I prefer to cover the debate on the issues. Now, with 40% of the campaign over, style and substance have merged sufficiently so that they no longer cloud the main questions: why are we here and where do we go from this point?

None of the Parties can beg to have been taken by surprise. They have been preparing for months for this election. Unlike us in the “everyday world”, this is what they do for a living. As the saying goes, to whom much is given, much is expected – with privilege comes responsibility.

Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, because he wields the sceptre of power, he bears the heaviest burden. The leaders of the Opposition are only slightly less accountable. Their duty to us? Offer a cogent, practicable alternative. Anything else is smoke and mirrors, hocus-pocus and slight of hand.

Take for instance the declarations of secondary actors in this federal election campaign. The “demands” of Provincial Premiers (more money and fewer conditions imposed on how they spend it), of Mayors (give us the money and circumvent the provincial governments) or even the Leaders of the Parliamentary Opposition (we promise more money to unions, professional bodies, or anyone “who is left out”) have had the effect of turning us all into mendicants.

Yet, on the eve of return to school – maybe – and on the threshold of a national debate (the “golden goal” moment in politics), collectively, we have yet to fashion a plan to safeguard the health and security of our children. We have not elaborated a strategy to have the economy re-open and flourish. Likewise with respect to international partnerships and how these might help develop a better future for our children and grandchildren.

No, we are too easily distracted by noisy boors who feel the need to shout profanities and obscenities that we run for cover. Why? Our democratic institutions should not be that fragile. Besides, the Prime Minister travels with a ten-car escort whose riders – some of the tallest specimens in captivity - emerge at the slightest provocation to seal him from potential physical danger.

On Saturday, a televised Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Liverpool, was the epitome of manners and health concerns by contestants and spectators alike. It was a sell-out crowd, respectful of the dangers of the Covid-19 Delta variant sweeping the nation. Everyone in the stands was wearing a mask, watched in decorous silence while players dutifully observed social distancing in pursuit of the orb on the field, apologizing and covering their mouths whenever a member from the opposing side came near.

Sorry, I must have been watching the wrong game.

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