Pas­sage of time chal­lenges us all

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - Wayne Young Wayne Young is an in­struc­tor in the jour­nal­ism pro­gram at Hol­land Col­lege in Char­lot­te­town. In My View

Wade MacLauch­lan may have raised a few eye­brows when he re­vealed his No. 1 chal­lenge in a re­cent year-end in­ter­view with this news­pa­per.

In the premier’s eyes his great­est chal­lenge is not ed­u­ca­tion or health care, nor is it elec­toral re­form, the en­vi­ron­ment or even the econ­omy.

It’s time, or more pre­cisely, the pas­sage of time. He said, “… time passes and, frankly, that con­tin­ues to be the thing that, I won’t say sur­prises me, but cer­tainly chal­lenges me.”

Per­haps that’s why, in the same in­ter­view, MacLauch­lan said he in­tends to run for a sec­ond term in 2019.

I have to ad­mit I was among those who fig­ured since he will be nearly re­tire­ment age at the end of his first term he’d end his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer right there. In ret­ro­spect, I’m not sure why. Some po­lit­i­cal ca­reers are just get­ting un­der­way at 65. Hilary Clin­ton, for ex­am­ple, is ag­gres­sively cam­paign­ing for one of the most de­mand­ing jobs on the planet – pres­i­dent of the United States – and she’s 69. Her chief ri­val for the Demo­cratic ticket, Sen. Bernie San­ders, is 74.

And for­mer Is­land premier Wal­ter Shaw was nearly 70 when he first en­tered pol­i­tics in 1957. He went on to lead the Con­ser­va­tives to vic­to­ries in 1959 and 1962 be­fore be­ing ousted by Alex Camp­bell and his Lib­eral team in 1966. He was 78. He re­tired from pol­i­tics at age 82.

Al­though he’ll be re­tire­ment age when the next fed­eral elec­tion rolls around in 2019, NDP leader Thomas Mul­cair still has de­signs on the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice. Dur­ing a tough in­ter­view on CTV’s Ques­tion Pe­riod this week, Mul­cair was asked if he plans to step down as leader, es­pe­cially since he would be once again be up against the youth­ful Justin Trudeau and a new, pre­sum­ably younger leader of the Con­ser­va­tives. Mul­cair said he doesn’t sense age will be an is­sue in the next elec­tion. He vowed to con­tinue to work “tire­lessly and non-stop” to con­firm his lead­er­ship and then to be­come PM in 2019.

Per­haps be­cause I’m head­ing into the late-50s my­self, I ad­mire th­ese men and women who show – de­spite their ad­vanc­ing years – that age really is just a num­ber. And I sus­pect many other Is­lan­ders plan to work well be­yond re­tire­ment age. That’s partly due to the prov­ince’s chang­ing de­mo­graphic – there are quite sim­ply more se­niors here than ever be­fore.

In fact, in 1971 the me­dian age in P.E.I. was 25. By 2015, as more and more Baby Boomers en­tered their se­nior years, it had sky­rock­eted to 43.7. Within the next 15 years, the me­dian age is pro­jected to be 46.7.

With the grow­ing co­hort of se­niors it’s no sur­prise that many of them, like MacLauch­lan, have work plans post-65. For some, un­for­tu­nately, it will be ne­ces­sity – in­ad­e­quate pen­sions or ac­cu­mu­lated debt – and not choice that will drive their de­ci­sion to re­main in the work­force.

Re­gard­less of our cir­cum­stance, time be­comes an ev­er­greater chal­lenge as each year passes. It’s of­ten been said we must make the most of ev­ery day be­cause, as one of my favourite au­thors sug­gests in the fol­low­ing ex­cerpt, time flies:

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night be­fore it’s af­ter­noon. De­cem­ber is here be­fore it’s June. My good­ness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

Happy New Year!

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