Vote for a reason
I realize that we are few and far between, we who parse every second of this still-nascent federal election campaign.
Not only few and far between, we are also boorish. Most people couldn’t care less that Justin Trudeau squandered a critical opportunity midway through the second question of the first election debate to point out just exactly where election fraud in Canada has actually taken place. Most don’t know that the Green Party’s Elizabeth May, if nothing else, is one smart person. Or that no party seems immune to massaging the facts like plasticine into whatever shape best suits them. Blah, blah, blah, we go on. Yawn, says everyone else. I get it. But there are other extremes. I met a man under a bridge. Under, in fact, a green metal single-lane bridge over the Margaree River in Cape Breton. I thought he was looking to see if there were salmon holding in the river there. He was deciding actually whether to swim. Apparently, in all of his clothes.
It was, he said, a nice day for a swim. And it was: warm and still, not even the smallest breeze playing across the surface of the river.
His car, burgundy, was parked on one side of the road. Mine, grey, was on the other. While we talked, black flies whirled around our heads.
He was wearing a blue woolen knit cap, and a white and lightblue plaid shirt. He was drinking both a large cup of coffee and his second tall-boy beer of the morning. The coffee cup was on the roof of his car. The second
I realize it’s unlikely that a majority of Canadians will stop and think and argue about where their votes should go. Many won’t vote at all, dooming us to representation by those who manage to glean the most of a small sample.
tall-boy, half-empty — Old Speckled Hen, to be precise — was between his feet in the long grass until he determined I was no threat to the beer. He said that beer in the morning was kind of like toast. It was not yet 8:30. He was not what he seemed. The bridge-dweller actually had several years of Toronto media and legal connections, before he toppled into an alternate, and more relaxed, smallerscale Nova Scotian lifestyle. I got the feeling that the shift had been both necessary and welcomed — a rescue, almost. It’s amazing who you meet.
The talk was a pleasure. He was travelling. He named a nearby hotel, said that he liked its ambiance, and that, if he got there too late to check in, there was an alcove near the front door that was perfectly comfortable for sleeping — that he’d slept there before. He said that, due to a hankering for live music and other distractions, his trip would end in Cape Breton instead of P.E.I. — he’d missed a day, or two. He didn’t care what time it was; I’m not sure he was fixed on the date.
Yet he was remarkably on point about where we are as a country and the direction we’re going in. His ability to make clear political points was a wonder — even when he interrupted himself to ask, “Do you like live music?”
I actually hope the man under the bridge, despite his almost-enviable detachment, will vote, unless his travels and the new hilariously named Fair Elections Act have rendered him voteless. He, at least, was profoundly aware of his surroundings and his place in them. Yet so many aren’t. I realize it’s unlikely that a majority of Canadians will stop and think and argue about where their votes should go. Many won’t vote at all, dooming us to representation by those who manage to glean the most of a small sample.
The man under the bridge stretched his arms straight up over his head, the cuffs of his shirt unbuttoned, moving slowly, taking the necessary time to think before he spoke.
Taking the necessary time.