It's pretty hard to miss all the election signs around town the past few days, a sure indication that we are now in the midst of a municipal election campaign. I must admit I haven't really paid all that much attention to politics at the local level though I know I probably should. I've spent much of my life in small towns and cities just seem a lot more complex with more competing issues. Throw in fact that we face a great deal of infrastructure challenges here as the region continues to grow as well as the fact that this is, well, Fort McMurray (land of opportunity if you're looking for work or Satan if you're a rabid environmentalist) and that adds a whole other dimension to the mix.
Admittedly, I was initially planning not to vote in our upcoming election here. A lot of attention has been focused on various re-development plans, the money for which I think would be better spent elsewhere. That, plus I've just grown a bit cynical as time marches forward. Does a politician really care what I think? Or do they just want my vote so they can have a job?
Looking back at other elections I've voted in, however, I do see how my vote has helped shaped the political landscape at both the federal and provincial/territorial levels so all is not lost. My cynicism hasn't fully taken hold.
In the first Ontario election I could vote in, I cast a ballot for a young up-and-comer named John Baird, who of course has now moved on to the federal level and, according to some sources I've read, could conceivably have a shot at being the next federal Tory leader and perhaps Prime Minister. In the 2008 Nunavut election, I voted for Ron Elliot who is once again running for re-election. There are no political parties in Nunavut at the territorial level (which is rather refreshing) but if re-elected, I know Ron plans to put his name forward for a cabinet position. I'm thinking Education Minister (always a challenging position in Nunavut) would be a good fit given his background and time will tell. Best of luck, too, Ron, if you happen to read this.
As a side note, I even briefly considered running myself in that 2008 election as I wasn't too fond of the incumbent, but concerns over siphoning off enough votes to allow the incumbent's re-election caused me to have second thoughts.
And I learned earlier this evening that back in my home province, the sitting MLA in Northumberland-Quinte West, Rob Milligan, has been elevated to critic for interprovincial trade. It's been a number of years since I've lived in Ontario now but certainly I would have voted for Rob. I've known him for quite a number of years as we were in the same army cadet corps as teens and by all accounts he is well-known and respected. I know he will continue to serve the riding well in this new role.
So, perhaps my cynicism is a bit misplaced. Sure, its a horrible cliche, but your vote really can make a difference. Now, having said that, there are few politicians here I have a lot of time or respect for BUT I still plan to vote. In the end, it is important and it does matter.