When I entered into this Provincial election as the Green Candidate for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, I was young and beautiful. Now I am older but also so much wiser. I thought supporting the turbines would be my biggest challenge. Turned out there weren’t many reasons to defend them, so I didn’t – that was easy. The hardest issue to eschew was the aggregate. From the gravel pile that E.C.King wants to put next to the health center in Owen Sound’s harbor all the way down to Southgate where they have seven aggregate pits within a three kilometer area, there is no doubt about it – the pits are the pits. Okay, some people are happy. The farmers who get more money than they can ever dream of and the companies that excavate the gravel are happy. The arms-length agency that collects the levies, The Ontario Aggregate Resource Committee (TOARC), is also happy. The shareholders of this company – who just happen to be the same aggregate companies that are paying the levies, are also happy. When you ask them if this isn’t a little ironic that they are collecting from themselves – they will tell you the government has instructed them to be “self-policing” and they are just doing what they’ve been told. Certainly if you ask why they won’t raise the levies so that the rates would equal those of other provinces – you’ll be told that it is because of “political inertia”. This is interesting because I talked a lot about the lack of political will throughout the campaign. Anyway, even if you give the Ministry of Natural Resources a pass for not making more money for itself and the municipalities who host these sites – one can still wonder why they lack the will to better manage the overall map of the pits. Maybe it could make sure that the pits are spread out to preserve some farmland, maybe a wetland. But it’s as if we have all fallen in love with our captor. This is the image I keep getting. I believe it’s called Stockholm syndrome. Stay with me.
We insist on reelecting the parties that seem to be quite happy with the status quo. Worse, I am hearing more and more conversations about how people are going to spoil their ballots to make a protest against their captors. But isn’t that what they want? Don’t the captors want you to give up, wanting to run away? Here’s the other thing that is staying with me still. A conversation I had with my co-campaigners about proportional representation. A member of the audience inquired about each party’s perspective. Our PC had only been asked once before about this and wasn’t for it. Our Liberal had been asked only once and wasn’t sure what her party’s stance was. And the NDP said it wasn’t in their policy. When I brought it up before a radio broadcast the next day, the Liberal had determined that yes they support the idea. The NDP said it was in their policy but not in their plans. (How I was able to let this go, I blame it on the lack of time). The PC answer was that we couldn’t trust what would happen – the wrong kind of people would get in. Did he mean the wrong kind of people that the citizens actually wanted to vote FOR instead of against, then again I have to forgive myself for not perusing this further. The people were about to call in with their own questions. I had to move on. But it has stayed with me as something that happened during the campaign that has major import. The-first-past-the-post system has got to be addressed more often by more people. And this is why: the Green Party of Canada had a million votes across the country last year and snagged only one seat. But we must as Greens or as friends of Greens keep up the good fight. We brought hope to this campaign. We brought excellent policy and language that was absorbed by the other candidates – words like holistic and conservation were echoed back into our debates from our policy. These were serious semantic victories. So what did I come away with overall; what is my feeling on the eve of our election? That this is the best riding. But that we are in some troubling times. I heard some real bad horror stories. Bad. Of course, I confess – my own precarious position as a home-bakery owner and supply teacher puts me in line with the feelings of many of our constituents. We are worried. A lot of us. But I also feel that things can change. And most importantly that everything we need is already here: the resources (if they were better managed and the wealth was shared) are plentiful; our health system (there is more than enough money – its just being mismanaged); hydro even (we make so much we practically give it away but its tied up in red tape and bad deals). It’s all here – the jobs too if we started helping each other. If we elected a government that we wanted instead of the one we’re afraid of but have learned to depend on.
Tomorrow, I will vote for me. This might feel weird. It will be the first time but maybe not my last. I have enjoyed this ride better than most I’ve taken in my life – even if it did rob me of my youth. Okay, I was already somewhat advancing in years. And beauty is only skin deep right? I want to thank all the people for the support – you are numerous and generous – and as a bunch – make me excited for the future. Let’s do this thing again some day soon,