COLUMN: Another (yawn) election over

I was struck by how impressively most of the hopefuls have mastered the art of graciousness in seeking my vote.

COLUMN: Another (yawn) election over

Politicians are a slick lot, aren’t they?

Attending just two all-candidates’ meetings this civic election – one for Surrey, the other for White Rock – I was struck by how impressively most of the hopefuls have mastered the art of graciousness in seeking my vote.

They are humble in their requests to serve me, nodding convincingly in their desire to do good, leaving a strong implication that other contenders, while perhaps admirable in their own ways, will do less good, if any at all.

Each spoke of social passion, of fiscal management and of representing my interests with honesty and integrity. Each was in favour of positive change, and against negative measures… just like me.

So, if these candidates are all pro-good and anti-bad – and if they truly are as sly as I perceive – how did all but two incumbents end up being re-elected last Saturday, given all the political grousing we’ve been hearing for years?

It’s easy to blame our electoral system. After all, it’s certainly got its share of faults, not the least of which is encouraging the more ignorant among us to cast ballots based on name-recognition, thus benefitting incumbents, impeding challengers and punishing voters who support fresh faces.

However, I have to wonder whether the unsuccessful candidates should shoulder most of the responsibility.

Certainly, the least recognizable names have the disadvantage of struggling to get their voices heard, especially within the confines of the mainstream media dictating what is and isn’t newsworthy. But, just as certainly, if candidates really have something to say – and they can’t convince the big, bad newspaper editor to print it – voters will still hear it, whether through paid political advertising, social media or plain old word of mouth.

Love of their city? Fiscal responsibility? Honesty? All admirable traits, all distinguishable by levels of subjectivity, and all unmemorable and unlikely to be noted in the objective media on even the slowest of news days.

In the lead-up to the election, any political operative who asked me how to get coverage in my newspaper received the same response. Candidates must say something of substance, I explained, and not just their expected position. Issue multiple news releases – one a day, if you want – knowing that the more unexpected the announcement, the more newsworthy it would likely be.

Raise or eliminate taxes? Increase or ban development? Create or pave our parks? I’m listening.

Spend less and provide more? ZZZzzzz….

Few rose to the challenge, and even the all-candidates’ meetings I attended came off as little more than an odd combination of love-in between ideologies and bicker-fest between individuals.

Many of the issues raised at these debates seemed either not specific enough, or too off-course from what voters base their decisions on, or – as was the case in the claim of one candidate that Surrey is “nearly bankrupt” – poorly supported when challenged.

Instead, newspaper readers were treated to such contentious issues as election-sign placement, which candidates can say “re-elect” in their literature or, my favourite, whether the BC Press Council should be involved when Surrey’s mayor says she lives in Cloverdale, when she actually resides in South Surrey.

Yep, the folks in Libya must be watching good ol’ Surrey right now to see just how effectively our system of democracy works.

If all this sounds a little too disrespectful to those who have given selflessly of themselves to take part in our democratic process this year, I don’t disagree. They chose to put their reputations on the line, allowing the rest of us to snipe from the sidelines.

I just wish those who ran for public office did so as if they were running for their – and our – lives.

 

Lance Peverley is editor of the Peace Arch News, a sister paper to The Leader.

lpeverley@peacearchnews.com

 

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A tow truck works to pull a dump truck from a ditch at 176 Street and 40 Avenue, following a two-vehicle incident Tuesday (Jan. 19) afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Dump truck, car collide in South Surrey

Intersection – 176 Street and 40 Avenue – was site of 2019 fatal collision

An electric vehicle charging station in front of Hope’s municipal hall, district hall. (Photo: Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
40 electric vehicle charging stations planned for Surrey

Funding coming from all three levels of government

Police on the scene of a homicide in South Surrey’s Morgan Heights neighbourhood earlier this month. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Crime Stoppers received more than 500 tips related to gang activity in 2020: report

Metro Vancouver organization “urging local residents to keep providing anonymous tips”

Family and friends of Hudson Brooks marched as part of a call for answers from an IIO investigation into his 2015 death. (Black Press Media files)
Inquest to look into RCMP shooting death of Hudson Brooks

Charges agains the RCMP officer who shot Brooks were stayed in 2019

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

Most Read