DANIELLE POPE: The sexier side of elections

I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had that have turned away from politics. You know the moment...

I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had that have turned away from politics. You know the moment: the wine at the table has all but dried and the host makes a retreat for the dishes before things get heated, a casual encounter with a stranger leans into small talk about the election until weather suddenly becomes more important, a debate with a friend is dashed with: “Do we really need to talk about this?”

Yes, we do.

Some of you are already fingering the page right now, ready to turn onto the horoscopes, weekly poll, film reviews, escorts. Thanks for reading this far, because you know what I’m going to tell you: this election is important.

It’s true, voters’ polls, electoral ballots and campaign trails don’t turn everyone on — though I know at least a few political activists who have what some might call an unhealthy zest for the adrenaline of an election — but until even the skeptics realize the importance of that little penciled check mark, we are all in trouble.

Alice Walker, the African-American author who wrote The Color Purple, said: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Complaining is easy, and it’s the best start to a great many conversations: What about those taxes? The HST should have stayed/gone. Can you believe those Medical Service Plan premiums? Can you believe those clear-cut developments up the Malahat? Can you believe the overcrowding of hospital beds?

Can you believe asking, “Who will you vote for?” ends the conversation?

The system is frustrating — even when your party gets in, the political acne doesn’t always clear up within a couple of days, or even years — but the real condition we suffer from is voter apathy: an entire nation of people who have forgotten how powerful they are.

Elections BC exposed that voter participation has crashed from more than 70 per cent of eligible provincial voters chucking in their ballots in 1983 to just 51 per cent doing so in 2009. So, maybe we are more satisfied with our way of life than ever before. We have full confidence in our politicians, we are happy with the status of our economy, our environment, our health care and our social services. We don’t like making choices. We trust our government always knows best.

Funny then, that all those complaint-laden conversations exist between friends from the middle-aged apathetics to university-age executives to seniors with more gumption than time. For a province full of people who have some things to complain about, it’s a wonder that pundit predictions suggest this May 14 election will be as voter poor as any. But we could still prove them wrong.

No matter your candidate or party, do something for yourself that will turn on this provincial election: realize you have the power to choose. Use it. M

Find out all you need to know at: elections.bc.ca/ge2013

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

Just Posted

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Jen Hodge conducts an online concert during the pandemic after returning to B.C. from New York City. Photo courtesy Claudia Nobauer
Canada Recovery Benefit won’t replace the magic of live performance, musicians say

Cash will help, but its the audience connection that most performers miss — and crave

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

Acclaimed Vancouver Island potter’s story raising money for developing artists

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Victoria pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

A group gathers for a guided story walk at the Comox Valley Art Gallery plaza. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley arts-based project takes honest look at overdose crisis

Walking tour aimed and raising awareness and sparking change

Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo releases his new single, Christine, on Oct. 30. (Photo courtesy Andrew Dodd)
Island bluesman David Gogo evokes return to good times with new single

Upcoming release ‘Christine’ among a dozen new songs written during pandemic

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann will play the same piano at the Port Theatre on Nov. 1. (Photo courtesy Best Days Ever Photography)
Piano duo perform on one piano in Nanaimo return to live performance

Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann present first live, in-person concert since March

Leaking Time by Oak Bay resident Ilka Bauer is the winning entry of the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Ilka Bauer Image)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

Can you spot all 12 Days of Christmas displays at the Butchart Gardens? Jen Blyth photo.
The magic of Christmas returns to the Butchart Gardens

Some events cancelled due to COVID-10 but 12 Days of Christmas will brighten the season

Gatineau artist Michèle Provost visits the Malaspina Galleries during her artist residency on Gabriola Island. (Photo supplied)
Gatineau artist the first to take part in new Gabriola Island artist residency

Michèle Provost to create art book reflecting on the positives of aging

Most Read