To the Editor,
According to preliminary figures from Elections Canada, the federal by-election held in Nanaimo-Ladysmith on May 6 saw about 40 percent of eligible voters turn out to participate, with the successful Green Party candidate receiving about 37 percent of all votes cast. Not only will the new MP-elect go to Ottawa with this mediocre mandate, but he cannot be ratified until the absentee votes are counted, and all other official business completed by Elections Canada bureaucracy.
This means that the new Member Of Parliament will be sworn in during the final week of May at the earliest, and the House Of Commons will recess in mid-June, when all MPs return to their ridings for the summer of campaigning on the much-vaunted rubber-chicken barbecue circuit.
As the junior MP in the caucus of two, he will have little or no opportunity to make any kind of impression in his maximum three weeks serving in Ottawa, but at least there will be an MP’s salary to sustain him up until the Oct. 21 federal election. One slight advantage may be that his election signage could stay in place on supporters’ lawns over the next few months of the campaign, rather than removing signs for just a few weeks between elections. No doubt other Canadians look at the by-election results with a somewhat more positive attitude than my admittedly jaded cynicism, but when all the preceding facts and figures are taken into consideration it really makes it difficult to become too serious about any of our politicians.
Yet we are about to be bombarded ad nauseam with campaign promises and advertisements from all ends of the political spectrum. So many words and heated rhetoric will be searing through the atmosphere and airwaves, it will be almost impossible to keep track of who is saying what.
Fifty years ago, when the current Prime Minister’s father derided opposition MPs as nobodies when they were 50 yards away from Parliament Hill, he was probably being truthful for once. Maybe we should reconsider his words during the next few months while listening to all the babble from the Ottawa rabble.