Byelections, a wake up call for the Premier
by The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher
TORONTO - “Do we have your attention, now Madame Premier? What do you think of the [by]election results of Thursday night”.
That was the reaction of the attendant behind the counter. Having recognized me as a former practitioner of the political arts, she had mustered up the courage to say it, in the hope I might convey the message.
“We preferred to cast our lot with an Octogenarian, whose past is hardly stellar, whose Leader is even less so, rather than cast our lot with the Party, Premier and government in office today”, she added. Just think how frustrated we are. What choices do we have?
Indeed, there’s a tough lesson for those who care to see it. Voter turnout was a discouraging 28.14% of the eligible voters. A staggering 71.86% could not even be bothered to cast a ballot.
Maybe they do not think they matter in our democratic process. In the last general election, the voter turnout was a paltry 47.8%; hardly a participation rate that inspires confidence in the public’s commitment a process that builds community.
Maybe, some argue, it had something to do with the composition of the riding. They claim that since 90% of the residents are from a visible minority, they might not yet have that same commitment to participation the rest of us (who stayed home anyway) demand.
It is hardly a serious observation. Those who make it forget that the process involves CITIZENS. To become one, the “resident” has had to undergo an integration period that involves acculturation in the democratic process. Besides, they are among the most prolific users of social media, therefore targets of social media campaign strategies.
Maybe the parties are no longer capable of inspiring confidence as builders of the future. Maybe they are dealing with issues that are targeted rather than inclusive. What were the issues anyway? Whatever the answer, only 8.2% of the electorate felt comfortable enough to associate itself with the Liberal Party.
The Conservatives, who won, didn’t fare much better – their candidate, Raymond Cho, garnered 10.86% of eligible voters, while the NDP attracted the support of 7.7%.
On the lighter side, one can say “they have two years to go”, or that “they have room to grow”. The lady behind the counter would have none of it: “Governing is a year-round job”.
(Wednesday 7 September 2016)