Monthly Archives: October 2015

Heroes of our own lives


Tens of millions of people on this third rock from the sun, this only place in the universe where free will is at least possible, live under the yoke of tyranny. Those who do not, share one thing in common: Periodically, they get to vote.

Today, Canadians get to vote for the government they believe will, on balance, reflect their values, protect their civil rights and deliver a minimum standard of social equity and fairness.

Is the system here in the Great White North perfect?

One of Britain’s great prime ministers, Winston Churchill, is alleged to have said: “Many forms of gov­ern­ment have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pre­tends that democ­racy is. . .all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democ­racy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Canada’s system is, by and large, Winston’s. Again, is it perfect?

We might prefer some form of proportional representation, in which pluralities of votes in individual constituencies truly represent the will of the people. We might expect those we elect to advocate our interests vigorously and without fear of back-benching themselves into political oblivion. We might want partisan bickering to dissolve, replaced by cross-party negotiation on the most important issues that concern Canadians: jobs, education, health care.

To quote an artist, “we don’t always get what we want, but sometimes we get what we need”.

So, then, what do we need?

Is it a government that panders to an ideologically calcified segment of our society, or one that listens to everyone?

Is it a government that prescribes political fixes for problems that don’t actually exist, or one that recognizes trials and tribulations as they emerge in the towns and cities where people actually live, raise families, work and die?

Is it a government that, in the end, believes in, and cherishes, the people it purports to represent, or one that rests contemptuously on its talking points?

These are the big questions that politicians are forbidden to answer, the queries that even their advocates and factotums are unequipped to address. These are the quandaries only we, the people, are permitted by our democracy, to resolve. We get to vote.

In recent years, New Brunswickers have been voting in droves. They’ve lined up at local Lions Centres, at kiosks in malls, at “hole-in-the-wall” outposts in small-town locations. In other words, we, and only we, get to (and do) vote.

The question is no longer how we vote today, but that we do. Those who choose to stay home and watch the latest episode of “Game of Thrones”, rather than engage in the “live-action-role-play” of their own existence on this benighted planet, are cheating themselves – and the rest of us.

Like it or not, we are all in this together. That’s what it means to belong to a democracy; and, surely, we belong to it as much as it belongs to us. For, if we don’t exercise our right to choose how we live and work, we abrogate our power to determine how our children live and work. We abandon them in the most irresponsible ways imaginable.

We become the heroes of our own lives simply by acknowledging that no one is coming to rescue us from inequity and despair – no one, that is, except us.

We vote to change the world. We vote to change the only universe we know. We vote to become better than we’ve ever been before.


The age of high anxiety


In electoral politics, the mood inexorably swings between fear and hope. Rarely do voters declare that they feel merely okay about the traffic of ideas that whizz past them on the left and right sides of the ideological divide.

Over the past decade, or so, fear has become the predominant emotion in the public square, where we gather as fellow citizens. In fact, these days, we seem to be afraid of just about everything.

Criminals and “evil-doers” stalk us at every turn, or so we are told as certain parties agitate for more prisons and longer jail times. Meanwhile, international terrorists are ready to infiltrate our communities, schools and public institutions, which is why, presumably, some national leaders are happy to crack down on refugees as never before.

Even more easily terrifies us.

When not scared by our own shadows in New Brunswick, we tremble at the prospect of getting old and not having enough money to cover our geriatric care. Where will we go? How shall we live? Who will look after us?

Then there are the kids, who, frankly, are not all right. Will they ever learn to read and write in a public education system that fails them year after year? What sort of jobs can they expect? How will they pay the bills?

Speaking of stiff duties, what are we to do about New Brunswick’s multi-million-dollar annual deficit and multi-billion-dollar structural debt? Despite repeated attempts to chisel down these burdens, the last couple of governments have made precious little progress in recent years.

On the other hand, a certain degree of economic stagnation is par for the course in this province.

According to a CBC news report about a year ago, “A report card comparing the economic performance of all 10 provinces with each other and 16 advanced countries puts New Brunswick at the bottom of the pack. New Brunswick finishes last among the provinces and second last overall in the report by the Conference Board of Canada, which measures the economic performance of the provinces against countries for the first time. New Brunswick was given an overall grade of D and was ranked ahead of only France in the list of 26 provincial and national economies that were examined.”

Specifically, the Board said, “The sluggish U.S. recovery has hurt export demand and both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have also had very weak domestic economies in recent years. These two eastern provinces have been burdened by excess production capacity, as they have not benefited from the boom in commodity demand over the past decade like Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

Now, of course, Alberta’s economy is in the dumpster thanks to weakening commodity prices and demand, which will, in turn, malevolently affect prospects of a new oil pipeline into this province, where we have already abandoned any plans we might have nursed for building an environmentally responsible shale gas industry.

Indeed, considering all the threats to fret about in this region of Canada, it’s tempting to concede that things don’t change, except for the worse.

Still, a morose attitude is as habit-forming as fear is self-perpetuating. These are what stop us from remembering that for every Great Depression there is a Great Recovery. We must only search for solutions to our shared problems – even those that have become especially entrenched thanks to the partisan mumbo-jumbo that has cluttered the path of progress.

If the mood swings in electoral politics, as it surely will on Monday, we are long past due for a new age of high hopes in New Brunswick.


The NDP vies for Atlantic touchdown


Theirs may be a Hail Mary pass, mere days before the federal election, but you’ve got to hand it to the New Democrats: if nothing less, they are determined to go down fighting.

Just as some polls show Justin Trudeau effectively eating Thomas Mulcair’s lunch, last week the NDP announced its platform tailor-made for Atlantic Canada. It included a surprising number of goodies calculated to warm the cockles of regional hearts.

There’s a bit more money for regional development initiatives. There’s a promise to spent $512 million over the next four years on cities and downs for things like road and bridge repairs. Mr. Mulcair,, also want to establish 50,000 childcare spots, costing parents a measly $15 a day. What’s more, the former socialist party intends to retain door-to-door mail delivery – something its arch-nemesis, the Conservative government in Ottawa, has announced it will dismantle across the country.

Whether any of this will actually persuade enough voters in Atlantic Canada to throw their hats into the ring with the NDP is an open question. In recent days, throughout Canada, sentiments have been shifting.

According to a recent CTV news report, “The latest nightly tracking by Nanos Research shows the Liberals emerging with a lead in the national election race, with the Conservatives holding steady and the NDP continuing to slide.”

Apparently, voters were asked, “If a federal election were held today, please rank your top two current local voting preferences.”

The results gave the Grits a squeaker of a head start against the Tories (35.6 per cent support, versus 31 per cent, respectively). At the same time support for the NDP has broadly plunged.

Said the news report: “The NDP have slid by a significant margin in Quebec, from a high of 50 per cent support at the beginning of the campaign, down to 30.1 per cent in the latest poll. The NDP are now in a statistical tie with the Liberals in the province, who registered 28.1 per cent support in the latest tracking.

“The Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives are also in a statistical tie for third, with the BQ at 20.4 per cent support and the Conservatives at 17.4 per cent in Quebec. Outside Quebec, the latest regional numbers show: The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada, with 50.2 per cent support; the Conservatives lead in the Prairies, with 46.9 per cent support; the Liberals have 40.9 per cent support in Ontario, while the Conservatives are at 36.5 per cent support; in British Columbia, the Liberals are tracking at 34.7 per cent support, with the NDP at 30.0 per cent support.”

As Nik Nanos observed, “”The Mulcair brand is strong, and it’s very clear from the polling that he’s probably the most well-liked of the three federal leaders. The bad news is, Canadians don’t see him as prime minister.

Of course, this sort of shake up was bound to happen. The NDP, both federally and provincially, have provided Atlantic Canada with some of the region’s best policy ideas – both humane and sensible – in recent decades.

But attitudes about politics and politicians become easily calcified, and it doesn’t take much to undermine a promising showing in popular opinion. Sometimes it takes only a vague notion that, in the end, no amount of good intention, no number of worthy ideas, can eradicate the perception that the NDP has been and shall always be Canada’s “third” party (a rather absurd proposition, given that it was, until the election call, the nation’s Official Opposition).

Still, really, who wants to play on a team whose forwards can’t catch the ball?

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Between a rock and the hard place


Only at election time does the rhetoric about the Maritimes’ proud and noble traditions – and its resilient and inventive people – soar above the Parliament buildings like so much papal smoke.

If we are to believe the campaign propaganda issuing from the mouths of all party leaders, we East Coasters are a sturdy and discerning bunch – willing to strip the shirts from our backs for those in need, sure, but equally suspicious of political carpet-baggers and snake-oil salesmen, fresh off the plane from the Centre of the Universe, asking that we buy what they’re merchandising.

Good for us, they say, rightly so: Handle us with care.

Of course, at any time other than an election cycle, they call us defeatists, welfare bums, worthless leeches sucking the life-blood from the national economy thanks to our alleged addiction to seasonal employment disorder and the requisite tankers of money Employment Insurance generously supplies.

The truth is, as always, somewhat more nuanced. Perhaps that’s one reason why we Maritimers are having a hard time making up our minds about who should own the keys to the castle in Ottawa later this month.

Shall it be the current prime minister, whom the decidedly non-conservative Toronto Star political columnist, Heather Mallick, castigated (rather brutally, if funnily) in a recent issue of the broadly left-wing American journal, Harper’s Magazine?

“What a long, strange slide it has been for Canada since 2006, when Stephen Harper became prime minister,” she wrote. “You thought you saw the last of Richard Nixon when he helicoptered off the White House’s South Lawn. Wrong: the man had a clone. And that clone must have been watching a lot of Sarah Palin speeches. Harper is Nixon without the charm, he’s Nixon without the progressive social and environmental programs. If he wins re-election in October, Americans might want to consider a northern wall.”

Nixon without the charm? Come on Ms. Mallick. I was 13 years old in 1973, when the world learned of the egregious crimes engineered by his bunch of thugs and supplicants determined to upend the U.S. democracy. President Nixon was famous for being entirely charmless. If anything, Stephen Harper is “Tricky Dick” on a good day.

Still, mistrusting democratically elected boosters of the so-called status quo has become our. . .well, status quo.

Shall our next federal leader be Liberal Justin Trudeau, about whom his political opponents say is untried, untested, elitist, infantile, unschooled, irresponsible, and, maybe worst of all, a true believer in the national Grit track record in this country?

Shall it be the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, who is losing his base in Quebec as I write – the victim of his own hubris and arrogance?

Shall it be Elizabeth May, whose Green Party does a magnificent job of criticizing the mainstream parties in its sights, but seems to fail repeatedly in transforming popular opinion into votes?

Whatever the reasons are for our general, political lassitude in this part of country, we must shake ourselves awake, become who we must be: the heroes of our own lives.

It’s all very well to talk about New Brunswick’s emerging industrial clusters, technology centres of excellence, and innovative economic sectors, but none of it means much when the crucial resource needed to power these initiatives is vanishing.

As absurdly simple as it sounds, people, not governments, build long-term economic capacity. They launch businesses, invent new products and services, and employ relatives, friends, and strangers. They inspire others to become entrepreneurs, exporters, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and builders.

That’s not only at election time. It’s all the time

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Brian Gallant’s big break?


With his approval rating dropping into the political dumpster, the premier of New Brunswick needed a convincing win, one year into his mandate. He got it with BMM Testlabs’ announcement that, with the province’s help, the company will create 1,000 good jobs in Moncton, though not all at once.

Now, can Brian Gallant maintain the momentum the province evidently needs?

In a commentary the premier penned for this newspaper organization last month, he declared how pleased he was to have participated in the “biggest job announcement ever sponsored by government in New Brunswick’s history.”

The fact to which he referred was that the province had put real skin into the game – ultimately in the form of taxpayers’ dollars – not only to keep a satellite office of an international company in the environs around Moncton, but to help expand it: 200 well-paid positions each year over the next five.

To be clear, BMM Testlabs is an Aussie operation that makes its bones by making sure that gaming companies don’t run afoul of their particular jurisdictions’ rules and regulations. It maintains outposts in its home country, the U.S., South Africa, and, of course, Canada, among many others.

In other words, as a player in a government-regulated industry it needs and gets all the public-sector support it can handle. In fact, that is its global, strategic imperative. But, really, in this marketplace, whose isn’t?

Private companies and corporations troll the world for “business-friendly” jurisdictions – those that provide tax incentives, skills-development initiatives and various “move-in/move-up” allowances.

In fact, former Liberal Premier Frank McKenna made an unapologetic career out of the tactic in the late 1980s and through much of the 1990s – even going so far as to set up an international 1-800 line that connected directly to him. I actually dialed the number once in 1990 just to see if it worked. It did.

The conversation went a little like this:

Me: “Uh. . .Hullo, Mr. Premier. I was just phoning to determine whether this thing of yours was, well, real.”

McKenna: “It is. What can I help you with?”

Me: “Uuumm…do you have pop in a bottle?”

McKenna: “Why, in fact, in Sussex, I do.

Me: “Then you better let him out as mum wants him home for dinner.”

Click, and the dead-phone hum ensued.

I assume that when BMM and Opportunities New Brunswick got together, a childish prank like this was declared verboten. After all, says Mr. Gallant in his column, “Good government policy opens the door for job creation.”

Somehow, that goes to this: “We are supporting responsible resource development projects. We are excited about the thousands of jobs that could be created from major projects, such as the Energy East Pipeline, the LNG terminal in Saint John and the Sisson Mine. All of these projects have moved closer to reality under this government and we will continue to work to make them happen. If these projects go forward, nearly 10,000 jobs will be created at their peak.”

Before we, of course, descend to the infantile humor that such a claim requires (something about unicorns farting rainbows), let us just pause, for a moment, and consider the implications of Mr. Gallant’s broader claims.

BMM’s announcement is great news. But its determination to create jobs is not, necessarily, deterministic. Anything can happen (and often does) with domestic and offshore companies.

The idea is to keep every possibility in play, and never allow one big jobs announcement triumph over the long-term objective of building economic vigor and diversity – or, in truth, goose one particular premier’s poll numbers.

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New Brunswick’s issues are united


Word comes down that the residents of Fredericton consider jobs, infrastructure and education as the top three priorities in this slow-motion federal election. All of which raises the inevitable question: Well, duh?

If Monctonians were asked, what would they say? Would their priorities be eating, breathing and sleeping? Would citizens of Miramichi wonder about moose fences, camp bylaws and the funny, little things in the middle of the provincial highway that keep you on the straight and narrow at midnight?

Nope. Likely, they would all say what matters most to them are jobs, infrastructure and education for the obvious reason that without an education you can’t obtain a job and without infrastructure you surely can’t get to one.

Pretty simple, no?

So, why do we make these matters so complicated?

Our provincial governments are determined to divide our province – all 750,000 of us – into “regions” of interests.

There is the north, where life begins and ends on the riparian reaches and harbours of hope nestled against the Gulf.

There is the south, where a great river runs to ensure that tourists enjoy their reversing falls.

There is the east, where a harvest moon beckons to California surfers, looking for a long-board experience on the mighty Petticodiac.

There is the west, where the zip-line of the Grand Falls meets the Maine forests of Paul Bunyan and his Great Blue Ox.

Altogether, and through it all, we crave one thing: clarity from our political leaders, and, more importantly, a sense of unity. That’s what we’ve been missing. That’s what we desperately need. And we’re not getting it.

For years, and more, New Brunswick’s Grits and Tories have been playing a game of musical chairs. Neither party has actually addressed the fundamental issues that commonly affect the people who do all the heavy lifting in this province. Rather, the main political gangs have preferred to castigate each other, ruin each other in the eyes of those who hold the keys to their respective castles: members of the public.

The results have been predictable.

In this province, we now endure an utterly unworkable government – one in which the bureaucracy holds no trust in anyone, and, for that reason alone, cannot be trusted; one the people who elected it are broadly certain they made a terrible mistake one year ago, four years ago, a generation ago.

We have come to the devil’s crossroads, people. The status quo simply won’t do anymore, if it ever did. We either sell our souls to the bond-masters of Wall Street, or we dig our way out by getting involved in the dirty, filthy political process of real change.

Either we remain sheep or we become wolves. Either we remain dopes or we become thinkers. Either we remain dreamers or we become doers.

So, then, if word comes down that the residents of Fredericton consider jobs, infrastructure and education as the top three priorities in this slow-motion federal election, consider the obvious:

It’s the same for all of us in this pretty province; it’s the same for everyone in this frightened region; it’s the same across a nation now terrified of its own shadow, now convinced of its own pernicious character.

We don’t need a political propaganda campaign to tell us what we’ve known in our bones for decades: We have seen the enemy, and we are it.

We have elected these fools. The time, now, is for taking back what we gave away, and to redeem the purchase of our democracy – one job, one student, one good road at a time.

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Disproportionately misrepresented?


The problem with Canada’s electoral system can be summed up in four words: “first past the post”.

It means, simply, that those who win a plurality of votes (more than the other guys, but not enough to justify a true majority in any particular constituency) get to rule the rural and urban roosts of this country without further ado.

For our purposes now, in an election cycle, that could mean that 60 per cent of this country will collectively vote for the NDP and the Liberals.

Still, under our peculiar system of government – which we borrowed – that would not be enough weapons-grade determination to defeat the Conservatives, whose 40 per cent showing would almost certainly return their majority government for a fourth, historic time.

As Globe and Mail national affairs columnist Jeffrey Simpson pointed out last May, “Canada’s system is looking increasingly isolated. It’s a system inherited from Britain, but even in that country, the system no longer easily fits with a fractured electorate. It also no longer fits easily in Canada, where three of the last four elections produced minority governments.”

Indeed, Mr. Simpson writes, “In contrast to many other systems, the Canadian provides very few checks and balances on a prime minister with a majority. The unelected Senate is a wet noodle; the government backbenchers are yes-men; the cabinet members are appointed by the top dog. With a couple of exceptions, none would dare stand up to such a domineering leader and his controlling staff.”

In fact, the evolution of western democracies seems to favour some form of proportional representation, and NDP Leader Thomoas Mulcair is not wrong when, in his election platform, he claims, “Democracies such as Germany and New Zealand have embraced proportional representation and realized improvements since moving away from first-past-the-post. In a study that looked at 36 countries with proportional representation, countries that reformed their systems saw increased voter turnout, more women and minorities elected and an overall higher satisfaction with democracy.”

Nova Scotia’s Atlantica Party also makes a good point when it declares in its mission statement, “A party that gets 35 per cent of the vote should not get 60 per cent of the seats in the Legislature. Electoral reform is needed to give fair results while retaining the voter-representative link. Voting systems such as Single Transferable Vote provide this; making it easier for independents to run in elections.”

The party also wants to institute e-voting and “the direct election of the Premier (and of) Nova Scotia’s Senators. Everyone should have a say in picking our leadership. The ruling party should not have the unfair advantage of game-playing the date of an election. Election dates should be fixed every four years and be called Joseph Howe Day.”

What if, in a new mood of enlightened self-interest, local leaders decided to experiment with proportional representation in New Brunswick – indeed, across the Maritimes?

Would that make our democracy stronger, more able to sustain a wider variety of voices and opinions, more wiling to entertain unorthodox, yet workable, solutions to our shared problems?

Or would proportional representation only guarantee – as its opponents repeatedly point out – policy gridlock at every turn of the screws of government? You think it’s tough getting anything done now, they argue? Just wait until you add dozens more dissenting voices to the mix. See what happens then to the quicksand of political decision-making?

Still, I’m inclined to ignore “facts” that are not based on evidence. How do we know until we’ve tried?

We certainly know what “first past the post” has done for, and to, our democracy.

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The enterprising East Coast


It’s always cause for rueful amusement when a major Canadian financial institution expresses delighted surprise upon discovering that people in the Atlantic region are among the most entrepreneurially minded in the nation.

To hear the Bay Street bankers crow, you’d think they’d come across a family of duck-billed platypuses living in a corner office: Why looky here. . .a true wonder of nature, don’t you know.

According to a recent missive from a spokesman for RBC, “When it comes to entrepreneurial spirit, Atlantic Canada leads the nation with 93 per cent of people expressing desire to work from themselves. That’s much higher than the national average of 84 per cent.”

The poll’s findings continue in a news release: “Over half of Canadians (57 per cent) are entrepreneurs at heart and have thought of owning their own business, according to a recent RBC Small Business survey. While one-third (36 per cent) of Canadians who have thought of owning a business have actually started one, 84 per cent of those who have not started a business say they would rather work for themselves than for someone else.”

Adds Sarah Adams, vice-president, Small Business, RBC, “Entrepreneurs play a key role in our economy by creating jobs, stimulating growth and encouraging innovation and creativity. They are the backbone of our economy so it’s important that we provide them with the advice and support so that they can compete and be successful.”

The research also finds that young people, age 18-34, are most inclined of any demographic group to at least “think” about starting a business; they are, however, the least likely to do so, thanks to empty-pocket syndrome? “In addition to lack of capital,” the survey reports, “34 per cent did not know how to start and almost one-in-four (23 per cent) said they had too much debt, such as student loans.”

What’s more, “The survey also found that respondents who thought of owning a business had been engaged in entrepreneurial activities as children such as doing yard work (49 per cent), shoveling driveways (37 per cent), creating a lemonade stand (22 per cent), painting (22 percent), selling crafts that they had made (17 per cent) and walking dogs/pet sitting (13 per cent).”

Finally, “Of those who started their own business, 40 per cent saved their own money; 35 per cent started small or with a side business to test the waters; 28 per cent got moral or financial support from family/friends; and 21 per cent contacted a financial institution/accountant/lawyer.”

As for the allegedly preternatural interest in small business and entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada, it’s not hard to understand. When jobs are scarce – as they have been on the East Coast for generations – you’re often better off making one for yourself.

That’s what I did, although my reasons weren’t tinged with the desperation associated with sudden, involuntary unemployment.

I left the Big Smoke, and a good job working for a major national newspaper, some 25 years ago, of my own free will.

Somehow, coming back to the region where I was raised seemed to me to be the right move. The proposition of being my own boss amid a whole population of self-employed bosses was decidedly comforting. Besides, when a good deal of the people you meet are working for themselves, the networking opportunities are virtually endless.

Somebody once wrote that entrepreneurship is “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled”. That is to say, it’s perilous – which is why, perhaps, it’s much at home in Atlantic Canada, where we never go a day without risk.

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Couch potatoes for democracy


The anybody-but-(fill in the blank) voting strategy is a time-honoured tradition in western democracies. In fact, the late, great American comic, Richard Pryor, squeezed a whole movie out of the construct in the 1980s.

In “None of the above”, the actor played a hapless candidate running on a simple platform: No one is good enough, wise enough or strong enough to represent the public, whose interests he or she purports to cherish. So, the message went, vote for “no one”, not even the guy urging the boycott.

As political commentary, the piece was mildly affecting. As movie-making, it was merely ho-hum. As a blueprint for democratic change, it was naïve, at best, and, at worst, oddly seditious to the underpinnings of a society that still embraces the conviction that individuals – no matter how poor – can still make a difference to their various lots in life as long as they exercise the power of their plebiscite honestly.

This species of strategic voting has raised its head in Moncton in recent weeks, as roadside signs urging people to “nullify” their ballots have cropped up overnight.

Elsewhere in New Brunswick, certain social activists have inveighed against what they characterize as a crooked and fossilized system that allows political candidates with a simple plurality to, in effect, hijack entire constituencies in which the majority vote goes against them. The activists ask people to protest with their hindquarters on October 19 and stay home – a sort of “couch potatoes for democracy” gambit.

It’s tempting to fall in line behind this thinking. After all, no form of proportional representation – which would immediately inject more, better and diverse voices into the system – has ever gained traction in a province where political elites of the two major parties (Liberals and Progressive Conservatives) jealously guard their territories. It hardly matters that the New Democrats are gaining ground (at least, until recently), for, as they do, the “machine” transforms them, leveling them, remaking them as “mainstream-light”.

Still, it’s important to understand what we lose by voting against a thing (either by staying home or deliberately scratching a ballot), as opposed to what we gain by voting for a thing (as odious as this may seem to be).

We lose when our disaffection trumps our determination to effect change. Fewer votes automatically concentrate power in the hands of (guess who?) the powerful. The greater concentration of power, the better likelihood there is of abuse of such power.

Imagine a New Brunswick where only wealthy business owners and propertied money-managers have seats at the table where decisions are made. You think you’ve got it bad now; boys and girls, I’m here to tell you ain’t seen nothing yet!

You can forget about “public consultation”. Banish all thoughts of making a positive difference in your lives. No one is listening, precisely because you chose not to be heard.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. It will fill up the void with the good, the bad and the ugly; it all depends on who’s doing the pouring.

On the other hand, we win when we engage – not because we are voting for a particular candidate or party, but because the weight of our democratic participation cannot be easily dismissed by interests who would rather see us watch political pot-boilers on Netflix than witness our lineups at the ballot box.

Personally, I may not always agree with the “great unwashed” – a company in which I gladly include myself – but I am not prepared to have my mind sanitized by the alternative.

I will vote, looking for the best in a bad crop.

Will you?

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