Vote for a rea­son

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Media’s At­lantic re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc. Twit­ter: @Wanger­sky.

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.

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