Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Election Season

On June 28, 2004, I did my duty as a Good Citizen and walked to my local school to vote in the federal election.  I then forgot all about it, including who I voted for; because that’s the nature of my relationship with politics.   

It takes a lot of energy for me to make an informed decision at election time; which doesn’t leave much energy left over to actually remember my decision.  When making the informed decision, most of my information comes from my friends and family; who, as an entity, have a wonderful variety of views.  So varied are their opinions that, in a post-election discussion about our choice of Canadian leaders, I’m less likely to be asked the question “who did you” than to be confronted with “you didn’t!!”

Still, I’m glad that I entered adulthood with a strong sense of the value of the vote. All the life-long encouragement was there: adults dancing around the room and elections that don’t include thugs. And so, that summer day in 2004, I cast my energy-sucking informed vote.  Two and a half years later, I walked down the street again with the same purpose; in a snowstorm this time, and with a bit of a trudge.  Two and a half years after that, the trudge resumed, as I kicked dried and fallen leaves aside on the sidewalk to get to my polling station.  During that particular election campaign, our national late-night talk show host said, “We’ve been on the air five years, and this is our third election!  We need intervention!”  Sometimes being a Good Citizen takes some endurance.

The 2004 summer election came and went just like summer itself: embraced, enjoyed, over.  The 2006 winter election meant that there were political candidates waving at me from floats in the Santa Clause parade.  The 2008 fall election meant that my daughter’s grade 10 field trip had photo-ops with Jack Layton’s campaign bus at a highway rest stop.  

And then, two and a half years later, it was 2011 and spring…time for another election.  A spring election means that we’ve endured the chill long enough and it’s time to stop. 

In a case of nature-imitating-fact, spring in my city, Ottawa, failed to arrive in 2011; and there was weariness on a number of levels.   During that campaign, the most political thing I heard from my friends was when one of them, grumbling about our cold April, suggested we idle our cars to encourage global warming.

But on my trudge down the street that election day in early May, I noticed, for the first time that year, buds on the trees!  Earlier that year, due to events in the Middle East, the word “spring” had become especially metaphorical for the possibility of better things.  Now that the buds had arrived here in Ottawa, was the same about to happen to Canada?

The answer to that question depends on which of my family and friends you’re talking to; but that election certainly brought an end to election season.