Today is the nomination vote for the Ottawa Centre Liberal candidate, and those of you following my work on the Capital Xtra website will have seen the interviews that I did with the two candidates. And while I will continue this process with the Conservative nomination race shortly, I thought I’d reflect a little on the race and what it has demonstrated to me.
Something I’ve really come to notice in working on political coverage is the way that these kinds of local nomination races are ignored in the “bigger picture,” but it’s the one place where anyone can get involved – choosing candidates, and choosing issues that they want to bring forward to the their chosen party.
More than anything else, we keep hearing about the way that people feel alienated from politics, but how many people actually buy a membership and participate in these races? Not too many. And one thing that observing these kinds of races has taught me is that this is where a person’s personal connection to politics is formed.
There’s one line in my interview with candidate Scott Bradley that really struck me:
"When people put $10 on the line, they themselves are passionate," Bradley says. "They have an investment in you, the candidate, and you can't let them down, you have to keep working hard. They're looking for that personal connection to politics as well, and when you can provide it to them, they're going to respond favourably and positively, and come out and support you."
The personal connection – between a voter and their candidate. We keep talking about how people aren’t getting a political education in school any more (nor are they getting history, but that’s another matter). This is one of those key missing links – grassroots involvement. I’m sure that if we could teach more people about getting involved on the ground level, we’d have a far less “alienated” and tuned-out electorate.
Elsewhere, hands up if you didn’t see this one coming. Now that the Conservatives have reportedly killed the EI “working group” by not bringing anything to the table – for which the Liberals walked away from the process in protest – they’ve decided to bring forward their own proposals. Not costed, or fleshed out, but they’re already talking about them, and they can talk about just how “responsible” their own plans are compared to those the Liberals brought forward. Not that the Liberals had any intention of coming away from the “working group” with an actual agreement either, but this kind of blatant game-playing is cheap and transparent, and should be called out as such.
In the event that you were wondering how the different parties’ election messages are starting to shape up, The Canadian Press takes a look at it here.
And finally, by sheer alphabetic luck, Canada wound up with the Number 1 of a limited edition marble bound book as one of the leader’s gifts from the G8 in Italy this summer, and because it’s a number one, that means it’s double the value of the other editions – worth $460,000! Of course, the Prime Minister can’t keep any gifts over $1000, so it’ll likely wind up being donated to charity or – hopefully – wind up in the National Library and Archives. Of course, we tend to pride ourselves on the frugality of the gifts we give world leaders, but it makes one wonder about just what kind of statement that makes to the rest of the world.