Read, discuss, call — and then mark your X(s)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Note: For some reason, this one wasn't on the website and since my friend Shirley said she laughed all the way through it, I thought I should post it.

Ah yes, the election rollercoaster continues on track.
Having just come down from the federal high, we’re heading back up as the municipal election gets going.
You know it’s happening.
No sooner were the McLeod, Crawford, Sommerfeld and Cavers signs down than a whole new community of names started to pop up.
Some of the names are familiar; others no so much.
It’s up to you to learn who these people are, a somewhat daunting task given there are 26 seeking eight council seats, eight vying for five school board spots and three who want to be mayor.
So, first things first — the election is not like a multiple-choice quiz.
You don’t have a 50-50 chance of getting it right if you just guess.
If you’re not sure who to vote for when you get to the polling station in 22 days, don’t guess.
Don’t put your X next to a name because you recognize it.
Don’t just check off someone because she’s female — or because he’s male.
If you’re not sure, just vote for the number you are confident can guide Kamloops.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; in fact, some of us have been doing it for years, believing that if we vote for just a few people, and others vote for the whole slate, our votes will have more weight.
The smart voter — and isn’t that what we all want to be? — will forget about the federal election and move swiftly on, learning about all these candidates, what they want to do, what they have already done (and watch for those who just pop up at election time, not to be seen in public again) and how much the voter believes them.
For example, social issues are being touted as a major concern for some of the candidates.
It’s fair to ask them what they’ve done so far to address poverty, homelessness, mental illness, addictions and myriad other crises that confront our city every single day.
Others are running on a more pro-business model.
Find out what they mean by this.
Does their vision come at the expense of recreational land — just ask the folks up in Aberdeen, if you want one opinion — or do they have a plan?
Do they have any experience or are these just words they’re mouthing?
Some incumbents are running on a stay-the-course platform.
That requires voters to think about how the city has been managed the past three years and decide if they’re happy with this “course.”
There are plenty of chances to learn about this group.
First, there are the candidate profiles that will soon grace the pages of KTW.
There is also campaign literature and advertising. It won’t be in-depth, but will at least point voters in the direction the candidate is looking.
Then there are forums.
So far, there are four scheduled:
* The North Shore Business Improvement Association hosts one Monday at 7 p.m. at the North Shore Community Centre, at 750 Cottonwood Ave.
* The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is holding its business-issue forum on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at Forster’s Convention Centre.
* A forum on seniors and downtown issues is being held Nov. 7 at Desert Gardens Community Centre, at the corner of Seymour Street and Fifth Avenue.
* KTW, Kamloops Daily News, CFJC-TV and Thompson Rivers University are hosting an all-candidates forum on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Hall at TRU.
Those are plenty of opportunities to find out more about the candidates.
And then there’s always the telephone. Give them a call and see what they have to say.
If they take the time to talk to you, or call you back, that might be a good indication of the kind of councillor they’ll be.
If they don’t, well, there’s a lesson there too.

More about Donald

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Well, we finally published the story about Donald Trump and the homeless man.
The one question everyone has asked -- even though you all know the answer -- is what was it like talking to Trump?
Is he the way he is on his TV show?
Having never watched The Apprentice, or any of its incarnations, I can't answer that question, but he was polite, well-spoken, made sure he joked about the incredible author of the book Paul Lyons was reading -- Trump's autobiography -- and seemed truly sincere in his desire to help a guy out.
It seemed weird listening to the mega-billionaire talking about how tough it is for people today, but he certainly sounded sincere.
As for the story itself, let's just say it was kinda cool to listen to this obscenely rich man say he'd looked at our paper and thought it was very good.
He didn't have to say that. He didn't have to ask what I do there, or what Dave Eagles does there, but he did.
And that's all the answers I have on this one.

And for those who didn’t vote — a zipper for your lips

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My 14-year-old is angry he couldn’t vote.
He studied the issues, asked good questions at the dinner table and, in the car on the way to school, read the few campaign brochures that came to the house before deciding who he wanted to represent Kamloops and to run the country.
He never told me who he had decided was worthy of his support.
And he was definitely unimpressed when I explained to him he can’t vote because he’s only 14.
I reassured him that in the next federal election (well, maybe two from now, since we’re no doubt going to be forced into another one by the hubris of the to-be-chosen new Liberal leader), he’d be more informed than many.
A friend’s daughter, another teenager nowhere near legal voting age, also studied the various platforms, peppered her mom with questions, debated with mom on some of the issues and, on election night, was channel-hopping to hear as much as she could about the federal election.
She also wasn’t happy with the explanation her age precluded her from voting — although there was a straw vote, based on political parties only, at her school in which she was delighted to cast a pseudo-ballot.
At first, I thought it was interesting and, from a mom’s point of view, reassuring the kid and some of his friends are showing an interest in their world at such a young age.
I wasn’t surprised my friend’s daughter was similarly engaged, since my friend is also one of those people who doesn’t just sit back and complain. She gets involved.
But now, I’m starting to wonder why we don’t let my son and other young people who want to vote — and who can demonstrate a basic understanding of the issues — this right because at least they’d use it.
They are unlike the 40 per cent of Canadians who heaped shame on the graves of our forefathers who fought for our rights — and didn’t bother to vote.
Is that fact not shameful?
It takes little time to go to a polling booth. We don’t even have to work all that hard to find out what the issues are, who the candidates are, what they stand for and why they think we should vote for them.
Just read a newspaper, listen to a news broadcast or maybe ask your teenager.
The voter turnout on Tuesday was the lowest in our history of voting, even lower than the 61 per cent who turned up at the polls in 2004 to get rid of Paul Martin and started us on this idiocy of minority government after minority government.
And it’s at least a generation from the record-high 78 per cent that gave John Diefenbaker the largest majority government the country has ever seen.
Maybe there’s a correlation there?
And, if you want to know the national breakdown, here are the stats, in order of apathy: Newfoundland and Labrador, 48.1 per cent; Northwest Territories, 48.6 per cent; Nunavut, 49.4 per cent; Alberta, 52.9 per cent; Manitoba, 56.8 per cent; Ontario, 59.1 per cent; Saskatchewan, 59.4 per cent; Nova Scotia, 60.7 per cent; British Columbia, 61 per cent; Quebec, 61.1 per cent; New Brunswick, 62.8 per cent; Yukon, 63.7 per cent; and P.E. I., 69.5 per cent.
Kind of ironic the provinces with the most seats — and the ones who have returned us to this minority nightmare — also had some of the worst voter turnout, while the have-not provinces had some of the best.
Among the reasons for not voting people have put forward include the issues were too complex, the campaign was about personalities, it’s hard to tell truth from spin and people are election-weary.
As my mother would have said, those are lame excuses. If anything, they’re just rationalizations.
I was raised to value the right to vote. In all my years of voting ability, I’ve missed one civic election — because we hadn’t lived in Kamloops long enough to qualify.
Voters have earned the right to criticize and praise for the next few months this government is in place.
Those of you who didn’t vote — don’t bother criticizing this government.
You may have the right to vote but, by not exercising it, you haven’t earned the right to complain.

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