From Where I Sit – I Hope You’re Engaged

In 1993 I was convinced to run in a bye-election in our rural municipality. The vacancy was created when Ed Stelmach won a seat in the legislature. The good news is that I ran against three men and won the election. It began an incredible experience like no other. I highly recommend that everyone consider running for public office if only to understand how complex it is to govern.

From that time until now I’ve been a political watcher. I read Graham Thomson’s column in the Edmonton Journal for the provincial take. I pay attention to cabinet shuffles and can usually name any particular minister. I even became involved at the executive level of the constituency and worked for the local PC candidate in the last provincial election. We all know how that turned out. I was supporting the incumbent, a person I believed was the strongest, most hard-working candidate, but I’d be the first to admit that the party needed a sharp smack upside the head. And it was delivered. Unequivocally.

It would be easy to be cynical and turned off. It would be easy to be discouraged and bitter. But politics is still a part of our lives. Roy is serving his second term in the very position I once held. I’m still a watcher. I observe, with interest, what is happening provincially as the new government tries to find its way and make its mark.

But I’m also watching the federal election with interest. I was one of the few Canadians who watched the debates. I was distressed by the rowdy and rude talking-over-each-other Globe and Mail debate on the economy. (I am horrified by the Donald Trump phenomenon but that is another story.) I’ve added watching CBC’s At Issue panel and Global’s The West Block to my regular viewing of CTV’s Question Period. Of course, the topic du jour is the election. I read columns by John Ivison and Andrew Coyne and others as they dissect and look beyond the easy sound bytes and superficial one-liners.

And I vote. I can’t remember missing an election?local, provincial, or federal?ever. Oops, That’s not true. One time I stayed home during a local election when, in my opinion, there was no one on the ballot to vote for. I couldn’t in good conscience endorse any one of those people.

I also work during elections, usually as a Deputy Returning Officer (DRO). It’s my way of supporting an electoral process that is the envy of most in the world. I know from being on the inside, that there is no monkey business or impropriety. I was encouraged during the provincial election in May that there were many first-time voters. Hopefully this greater awareness and involvement is something that trends and continues. Carleton University says Racists, Sexists, Homophobes Vote, and, in a get-out-the-vote campaign, are suggesting you should too, if only to cancel out those repugnant ones. I, too hope You’re engaged October 19th, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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