If we knew how to make a better mess out of our democratic process, we would have a hard time beating this year’s municipal election. While, in Montreal, almost a dozen people want the job of mayor, sure to be scrutinized by the population, the media, and every police corps authorized to operate in town, around here, so many posts were filled by acclamation that this newspaper will have to go to the non-existent plan Z to bring you news! Gone will be the debates, the innuendoes, the rumours of all sorts.
Mind you, unless some sort of Einstein of politics had decided to run against the incumbents, they would have received our endorsement.
Still, some new blood is always welcome, especially those of the ‘little faith’ variety. Then, maybe - as in we never know- when bids are coming in with a 40% difference between the highest and lower bidder, some councils may think twice and call the friendly police officers at UPAC, the special unit set up to combat corruption, rather than going for the lowest bidders immediately. Since our towns’ budgets are rather constrained and we would understand that nobody would spend our money on a long distance call, may we remind them that they offer a toll free number. If they don’t already have it, this newspaper’s generosity will extend as far as printing it for free: 1-888-444-1701.
Naturally, we do not expect our local politicians to follow the daily televised hearings of the Charbonneau Commission; they are too busy at work looking after our interests, after all. And as we all know, it’s all allegations, nothing proven in a court of law, yet. And yes, when someone offers you a brand new LCD television at 40% off, he has to sell it fast because he needs money right now!
Well, this is what democracy is all about. Participation. Not only as voters but as concerned citizens who care about the process and would not hesitate to spend some time defending their ideas and their values. The lack of volunteers willing to serve, this is what they are if one looks at the stipend given for their services, is dangerous in any democracy. More so at the most basic one: our municipalities, where local services are provided, where one knows most of the people and is familiar with our problems. That so few chose to run is not a good harbinger of what’s to come.
When nobody shows up, unless there is call for a boycott, most people agree that there is no need for the institution.
And while the actual Premier, Pauline Marois, is a strong defender of local school boards, she can hardly not take notice that when so few are voting, keeping them may not be necessary. When the only political party that she can rely on for compromise is known for the abolition of school boards, then political reality may set in and they may well disappear in the near future, with catastrophic results for the Anglophone minority.