So little for the mind

di Joe Volpe del 24 October 2019

TORONTO - When you’re under the weather, as they say, you try to rest, read, write or channel-surf. Given the atmosphere of a post-election euphoria, I did my fair share of the latter.

I found myself harkening back to my teacher training years when one of the required reading texts was So Little for the Mind. The author, Hilda Neatby, a historian/ educator was the only woman on the Royal Commission studying the sad state of a„ airs in Canada’s educational system. I guess I did not contribute much to its improvement.

Not to the political discourse; not to the educational system. As I watched some of the commentators (consultants for hire) try to spin an answer on the election outcome I could only think: Nothing’s changed.

Maybe I’ve become too crotchety, but I don’t think I am alone. The overall voter turnout dropped by two and a half percent (2.6%) and no one asked why? Maybe the fact that the ruling Liberal party saw its support drop from 39.5% to 33.3% - a full 16% erosion of its popular base - might have something to do with it. Suddenly the man who made “selfi es” famous is no longer as in demand. Why not?

Discussions almost always veered towards issues of “survivability” of the Leaders of the other two main Parties, simply because they now had virtually no claim on the top prize. The CPC had gone UP from 31.9% to 34.4% and its seat count to 121. Their Leader’s head is already on the chopping block. Maybe the pretenders to his throne already smell victory the next time around.

The NDP on the other hand must be ecstatic that they went from 44 seats to 24 seats and from 19.7% of the popular vote to 15.2%. their Leader, a turban-wearing Sikh did not make a dent in the Liberal Sikh fortress of Brampton – Mississauga.

If he couldn’t convince his natural base to throw their lot in with him why should the rest of us? Indeed, why would anyone? Of the three main Parties his alone dropped below their traditional voter base. The other two were not able to take their Parties beyond their traditional 32-35% support level.

What will happen to our country if it is bereft of leadership capable of inspiring the citizenry to reach out to defi ne itself according to its ability to recognize and manage the issues that will shape our future? Worse, what hope is there if all the Parties take for granted that one group will never move from one Party to another?

Where are the leaders, motivators to address the matters of national importance and local consequence? A friend of mine, who unlike me, is an ardent Conservative, responded to a jibe on my part by saying that “all Italians are Conservative – they just vote Liberal”.

With minor variations, he is probably right on second part. I’m sure the Liberal candidates in the 91 ridings across the country where 5,000 or more Canadians self declared their Italian origin hoped he was right.

The whole truth is that those citizens have a sense of what it means to be Canadian and until a better one comes along; they’ll ride the red Taxi.

There are only two signifi cant issues on the horizon. Building of pipelines and immigration. Only a bungler won’t accomplish the first. The second takes courage, planning and vision. I don’t see it there today.

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