Letter to the editor – Think for yourself

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Think for yourself

by Peter Johnson,
Upper Oxford Mills, ON

‘These are the times that try men’s souls’. I am not sure who penned that but here in Doug Ford-dominated Ontario, it might be re-written as the times that try women’s souls. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to be Ms. Elliot or Ms. Mulroney. They who lost the party leadership race, and now have to take marching orders from a man who is not their equal in more ways that one could count…on a good day.

‘Politics is a blood sport.’ I agree with whomever said that. Neither do I think that it is for the faint of heart. As a candidate, you pour your entire being into being elected and you face an uphill grind if you are running against an incumbent. Nearly 75% of incumbents are returned to office. There is something wrong with this picture. To me, it smells of voter apathy. ‘They’ve done this job before, so they must be better at it than those who have not.’ Possibly right, but politicians, like coaches are ‘hired to be fired’. They all come with a best-before-date.

How often have you thought that the once-newly-minted politician, with the grand intentions, became corrupted by the system and is now acting as if he or she is ruling by divine right. Our recently defeated Ontario Premier, as well as the dearly departed former Conservative Prime Minister, come to mind. (I was recently doing a sound check before a performance and said into the mic, ‘Stephen Harper is a very bad man.’ The mic had not been live, but at that moment it came up. One of the rural gentlemen in attendance came back with, ‘Stephen Harper was the best Prime Minister Canada ever had.’ Now, if you are wondering where this fits in, let me see if I can make it do so.

Dalton McGuinty walked into office, full of rookie plans and honest intentions–one supposes. Kathleen Wynne left education to enter politics and, similarly, probably wanted to make contributions that would better our society. But in each case, if we still had lynchings and/or burnings at the stake, they would both have been stretched and roasted, if the public at large had any say. So, what happened? Something shifted. Significantly. The same with the attitude of the voters.

Is there any way we would be dealing with the revenge-motivated decisions of Doug Ford–notwithstanding his penchant for being impulsive–had it not been for the tenure of McGuinty and Wynne? The public was so upset with the Liberals that, regardless of what ever mind-numbing decision the Conservatives made in overlooking two excellent female leadership contenders, they settled for a man who, notwithstanding his multitudinous shortcomings, became the leader of the Party and the Premier of the Province. I am waiting to wake up in Ontario…but I think I am in Kansas, Toto.

Our local election promises to have the same ingredients. Have some or all of them reached their best before dates? Should they all be thrown out, due to widespread voter displeasure? Or do they all get to stay due to the 75% rule.

Politics may be a blood sport, but it shouldn’t be a spectator sport. We should not sit in the bleachers and just watch. We need to sit in on the meetings and listen to and ask questions of these candidates. If you can’t take the time to properly inform yourself, then don’t vote.

You haven’t earned that right. Hearsay and third party rumours do not make for reliably informed decisions. Take your responsibility seriously. Just because a candidate is looking to be re-elected, that alone is not enough to justify earning your vote. Let’s turn out for the candidate forums. Ask lots of thoughtful questions. Find out who is best qualified to do the job, then vote accordingly. It is not just a right on our part, it is an obligation.

p.s. Did you see how Mr. Harper got tied in to all of this? No? Me neither. But it was fun taking yet another shot at the man who tried to dismantle our parliamentary democracy.

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