The writ’s dropped and Canada’s 43nd Federal Election is well underway. We’re just a week in, but leaders have already traipsed across the country, more than once, kissing babies, making promises and trying desperately not to step in a puddle — or worse.
The national media have hit the ground running with pollster predictions, campaign strategy analysis and a frequent asking of “regular Canadians” (whoever they are) what matters to them. The media love this stuff, and I have to admit, I’m a bit of a junkie for it myself. Who doesn’t love a horse race?
But, of course, therein lies the problem.
Housing, childcare needs, employment and taxes are very real issues that profoundly impact our lives, so it can be rather insulting to see those sometime difficult realities turned into mere talking points bandied around for a spectator sport. The other day, I had to turn off the radio after listening to three of the leaders promising one thing or another regarding childcare. Of course, I care about childcare, and how each party plans to support it matters, but the tone of salesmanship was just more than I could handle first thing in the morning.
The other problem with horse-race-type coverage is the fact it’s so heavily focused on the leaders. Yes, leadership matters, but there’s a lot more to governance than one smiling face. And, by the way, none of the leaders are in our neck of the woods, so it’s not like we could vote for any of them anyway.
Which brings me to who we can vote for and how we can make this election process meaningful, because, despite my apparent cynicism, I actually do believe the next 32 days are critical to the functioning of our democracy.
To that end, I’m thrilled that right now, we have five candidates running in Richmond Centre and four in Steveston-Richmond East. Regardless of the final outcome, having representation from across the political spectrum gives rise to robust debates and varied perspectives.
But perhaps what I like most about elections is hearing from those not usually in the news. Youth with something to say about climate change, family caregivers with something to say about “aging at home,” political science instructors with something to say about foreign policy and Richmond News readers with something to say about our community.
In the run-up to the federal election on Oct. 21, the News is committed to presenting as many voices and ideas as possible in regards to the issues that impact us. We will provide daily roundups online and features every week in the paper. In our Oct. 10 edition, we will have a complete package of candidate bios as well as our “20 Questions” in which we ask each of the candidates to give a yes or no answer to a series of questions with the option to elaborate on two of them. For that, we’re asking for your suggestions. What do you want an answer to? Send your questions to eedmonds@richmond-news before Sept. 30. Put “20 Questions” in the subject line.
Winning matters but not as much as the contest itself. So bring your ideas, explore others and simply be a part of this project we call democracy. As with anything, it’s a case of use it or lose it, and losing what voice we have when it comes to governance is not a reality I care to imagine.