Rhino's Ramblings: The Stay at Home Vote

Robert Thomas

Well it’s Thanksgiving and it’s traditionally the time to be thankful for everything around us. I suppose that is unless you are a turkey. But then again if you are a turkey Christmas is also on the way and my carving knife will be sharpened by then.

It’s also the time we should all be thankful for what we have and give thanks that we have made it through to another year.

We also are, for those of you who aren’t aware of it, right in the middle of a By-election Campaign. You know, an election thing?

But I will be honest with you, it’s not the most exciting election, with many people either unaware, not enthusiastic or quite frankly just not caring one iota about any of it.

Tough economic times, a scandal and another division in the City have basically tuned more than a few people out to the point where they simply no longer care. It’s sad really but when it comes right down to it a poor turnout is bad news for the powers to be at City Hall.

The City has been trying to somehow make connections and receive feedback from their citizenry on more than one occasion but despite some headway they are failing to connect. Some might say it’s a lack of communication but if you dig just beneath the surface it is perhaps something far worse. So many Moose Jaw residents simply don’t care anymore. People who don't care aren't the most attentive and when it comes time to tell them about a new City initiative chances are it won't be overly easy.

Although that old cliché “If you don’t vote then don’t complain” might sound great to some, the real problem is that its much more endemic in the Friendly City. We have seemingly reached some hidden point out there where many people in their own minds just don’t care anymore. It’s at a point where apathy meets reality and people just say it’s not worth it. Or worse yet, it’s just not worth wasting my time on.

In the past couple of days I have run into well over a dozen people who simply say they cannot be bothered with the upcoming By-election. It’s the same old “why bother at all its just a waste of time, whoever gets elected isn’t going to listen to me anyhow.”

For some of the movers and shakers in this community it has to be highly worrisome as the By-election turnout is really a great indication of what type of support and true legitimacy they have. I'm not talking about those elected but rather the ideas they either bring with them or ideas others bring with them. It is also, whether they like it or not, tied into their property taxes as less volunteers out there means more paid staff and costs associated with events the City and others might want to hold.

If you are a local business owner there has to be worry as well because I once read a study where loyalty to local businesses was higher in communities where people truly cared about their communities.

And voting is, believe it or not a good sign if people who are watching care about their community and prefer not to do their shopping elsewhere otherwise it’s the start of a death knell for the community as people take their money elsewhere.

When people don’t care it actually adds more stress onto the City as they scramble to be heard. People who are attentive seem to care more and it is less costly for the City to try to get their message across. It eases the City’s efforts to make Moose Jaw a better place.

Time and again it seems the City has found itself caught up in controversial issues where there is push-back from residents. Those who push back often find themselves criticized for expressing their views in what is supposed to be a democracy. The problem is that these people naysayers or are they simply trying to find out how things affect them?

From my reading of the various sources a low voter turnout in a Civic By-election has to be the greatest fear of those contemplating running Federally in about a year's time.

I’m also going to be honest and tell you a little secret, in many ways the Federal parties will be taking a look at the voter turnout. It’s not just about who you chose for your municipal representative they look at but there are bean counters out there looking at other things.

The beans they are going to look at are the percentage who voted and in what area they voted in. And here is a really good indicator for the NDP, who, if they are going to make an impact Federally in Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan they need a good turnout in the areas of the city who are more traditionally likely to vote NDP. If apathy is deeply entrenched there in the Civic election reviving it for the Federal election is going to be difficult if not next to impossible.

It’s also a nightmare for the Greens as well who piggy back in those areas. Their calls for proportional representation will be even more muted if they do not make some sort of percentage breakthrough.

As for myself, I won’t be running Federally in Moose Jaw for the Rhinos. I did my part, as they say, to hopefully get people interested. I kept my promise to a friend who died from pancreatic cancer so long ago now. In fact all of the old Rhinos I knew are now passed into a greater herd elsewhere. Cancer got most of them but at least it was not apathy.

With that said we do live in a democracy where we have the right to vote or not to vote. Believe it or not its something to be especially thankful for.

In an effort to assist people in making up their own minds I went out and sat down for coffee with the four candidates running for the position of Councillor. Are they full portraits of the candidates? No, they are not, but I’m hopeful they show a better portrait, a bigger insight into the policies and character of who these people are who graciously threw their names into the ring. People who want to represent you.

The articles I wrote are lengthy but hopefully they give you some guidance in making your choice in all of this.

Here is hoping you take the time and opportunity to read them. That is if you don’t doze off from too much turkey. And if you are about to nap be thankful for that as well.

Coffee With Heather Eby

Coffee With Mike Bachiu

Coffee With Steven White

Coffee With Doug Blanc

moose jaw