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I’ll do my civic duty – but where?

Steve Campbell

I’ve been quiet for a while, but I cleared some time to join in the post-election analysis with a few comments.
First: I laughed out loud when I read the letter in the Times about the poor people who were shuttled all over the County to do their civic duty on voting day.
You are, indeed, not alone. I also was a victim of Election Ontario’s ‘flawless’ system. I did receive a voting card, unlike many of my friends, and it told me to vote at the Masonic Temple in Picton.
I pinned it to my wall because, in the last federal election, I lost my card, and they did everything but strip-search me before they would allow me to vote, even though everyone in the freakin’ room knew me, and called me by name.
This time, I walked down to Bloomfield Town Hall, which is a few doors away, and asked, “Can I vote here?” No. So I walked back, jumped in the truck and drove to Picton.
I was met at the door by a girl I assume is a County employee, since she had a fluorescent orange vest with a bright yellow X on the front. I think they are forced to wear these all day, even to formal dinner functions, and to bed.
So I explained and asked, “What’s the deal?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “but half of Bloomfield has been through here already. How many stations do they have in Bloomfield Hall?”
“Two, if I recall correctly.”
I had to say: “Y’know, everybody in every party is campaigning on energy conservation, and yet they make us do a 10-mile round trip to vote, when there’s a voting station just down the street.”
I guess energy generation and conservation is really just a great big, not-so-funny, Ontario joke.
The long and short of it? Somebody buggered up. Or they looked at a map and said, “Hmmm, this place ‘Bloomfield’ looks to be very close to this place called ‘Napanee’. It’s probably just a short trip by subway.”
Not to be paranoid, but I received a big colourful fold-out flyer from Elections Ont. just a few weeks earlier, showing us the multitude of ways we could vote.
I knew it was a government flyer, because it had the obligatory combination of men, women, blacks, whites, orientals and Inuits on the cover. But no-one in a wheelchair. Hmmm. Somebody else buggered up there.
Inside the big foldout is a giant cartoon map of Metro Toronto, with full descriptions about how many wonderful ways city people could vote.
“Wait a minute,” I said to myself, and then waited a full minute, because I always listen to myself. “I’ll bet the CITY people all got voter cards. I’ll bet the Etobicoke people weren’t asked to drive to North York to vote!”
This, I think, was a huge plot to block the rural Ontario voters who, clearly, were sick and tired of McGuinty.
My full dissertation on this paranoid conspiracy theory can be found in my new book, ‘The McGuinty Code’.
Now to more serious matters.
Yes, Ms. Dombrowsky did indeed pay a price for the County’s endless passion to argue about industrial wind turbines.
I like her, and I admire her, but she made some fatal mistakes. Like most MPPs, she believed her job was to bring the edicts of Queen’s Park to us – the common folk. Sometimes this was good news, and much-needed cheques would be doled out for good local projects. Sometimes it was bad news, and that’s when we need our ‘representative’ to send our message back UP the pike.
At the Picton Church meeting, she said she had discussed our wind concerns with the Minister of the Environment, and with the Minister of Health. And I believe her.
But the question hanging in the air is: “So, what did they say?”
Did they say, “Wow, these are legitimate concerns and should be dealt with before we proceed,” or did they say, “Yeah, yeah, those dumb country hicks are always bitching about something.”
A friend is a friend if they stand beside you when the going gets rough. Not allowed in the McGuinty government. Or the Harris government. Or the Rae government. Or any government, for that matter.
Modern government in Canada is not made to listen to its people. As I’ve said about some people I know: “They’re like a computer that is all output and no input.”
In the heat of victory, Todd Smith, our new guy, was just quoted as saying our MPP needs to be OUR voice at Queen’s Park. We’ll check in on that later, when the party whips start cracking, the blindfolds are put on, and the duct tape gets wrapped around the mouth. Politics, like prostitution, can be a wicked game.
And to Treat Hull, I offer my heartfelt thanks. For the first time in a long time I could cast a vote for someone personable and intelligent, well-researched and well-spoken, backed by a decent party platform. A good heart, a good soul and a good brain, tossed aside.
Unfortunately, he was a victim of the two-party system that has been passed down through generations since confederation.
“If I vote for the really good guy, knowing he won’t win, the really bad guy I hate will win. So I’ll vote for the guy who I think can beat the guy I really hate, even though he’s not the guy I like.”
You might have to read that several times before it makes sense. It still doesn’t make sense to me.
A vote for someone you believe in, who is not a ‘contender’ is called a ‘wasted vote’. I wonder what would happen if everyone voted for people they believed in.
My brother Rick used to say: “The problem with the Canadian system is that we have to do too much with one vote. We like the local guy, we hate the leader. We like the leader, the local guy is a dork. How do we make up our minds?”
It’s way better than the American system, in which you can buy television networks to trumpet your glory and cover your mistakes at every turn, and buy the entire state of Florida if you have a relative there.
Still, the people have spoken. And not a lot of them either … the lowest turnout in quite a while. Maybe everybody’s just getting tired of the same old dog-and-pony show. Promises made to be broken, leaders with no vision, and players who tell you what you want to hear.

Filed Under: Steve Campbell

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