Dissatisfaction with politics as usual is hardly a new phenomenon, but the malaise seems to be mounting.
Voter turnout in most jurisdictions continues to sink and, in a new poll commissioned by the Public Policy Forum, 65 per cent of respondents saw question period in the House of Commons as "just a forum for politicians to grandstand for the media and try to score cheap, political points."
I wonder if the other 35 per cent just don’t get CPAC.
Just down the hill, we’re in a municipal election, and even some of those running for office appear disillusioned with the campaign.
The first mayoral all-candidates debate, at Andrew S. Haydon Hall, was notable for the premature and exasperated departure of the venue’s namesake, the former regional chair and candidate for mayor.
“This ain’t democracy,” Haydon was reported to grumble as he bailed on the meeting.
The problem was that nobody in the audience had any questions for him, directing them instead to perceived frontrunners Jim Watson and Larry O’Brien. Would it be more democratic to force otherwise uninterested voters to ask Haydon questions?
Bay Coun. Alex Cullen, meanwhile, abandoned the race before it had officially begun, frankly explaining he couldn’t raise the required money. He has repeatedly criticized the role of corporate campaign contributions — particularly from developers — in municipal politics. The Catch-22 is that refusing to accept their cash himself, Cullen seems to have taken himself out of the running for the office in which he could most likely do something to reduce the money’s influence.
As for O’Brien and Watson, both have for weeks been alternating between trading cheap shots and complaining about the other guy’s cheap shots.
We might wish the candidates would stick to policy but, as Watson demonstrated with his proposed ethics reforms for city hall, it’s entirely possible to take a plank from your platform and use it to whack your opponent.
Watson pointed out that since his election in 2006, O’Brien’s company, Calian Technologies, of which the mayor remains a board member and shareholder, went from doing $167,000 to $1.8 million in business with the city. Watson prudently avoided any allegation of wrongdoing, just stated that the optics were bad.
One can’t assume a cause and effect relationship between Calian’s fortunes and the election of its founder as mayor, but if I were a Calian shareholder, I’d vote for Larry, just to be safe.