Saturday, October 25, 2008

Vecchiato's Voice - Your Vote

On Tuesday, October 14, I cast my ballot in the Canadian federal election. On Wednesday, October 15, I smacked an Obama for President bumper sticker on the back of my Ford Escape. An element of gratitude is inherent in the juxtaposition of both acts. I have the best of both worlds, and despite doom and gloom south of the border, and foreboding angst seeping north of the 49th parallel, those of us living in the States or Canada thrive within countries that exceed the greatest dreams of most of the world's population. We have the right to vote.

So besides the U.S. election, an equally important ballot casting will take place in November right here in Langley. The powers delegated to municipalities in BC are mighty, and the representatives we choose can make or break the quality of life in our immediate vicinity. Having participated in candidate forums in the past three elections, I feel that a forum is not a place to bring a personal confrontation to an incumbent. I've seen it done and it does more harm than good. New candidates are denied exposure they desperately need to place them neck to neck with incumbents, who have gained publicity over their years of service.

Case in point is Tuesday evening's SmarthGrowth and South Fraser on Trax candidates' meeting. Questions ranged from freight (or fright) trains running through the core of the Langleys, road reconfiguration from 64th to Glover, preserving the ALR, the now-dead water management plan, to one suggesting a "spine" of trees/trails going from the 49th parallel to the Fraser River (huh?).

But what was noticeable was that new candidates were not privy to the same information as incumbents, and a lack of knowledge can appear as being uninformed, when, in fact, the information is not necessarily public. I'm leading to the issue of "in camera," which is a bureaucratic term for "behind closed doors."

I had to imagine myself up there and how I would respond to many of the questions posed by both the sponsoring organizations and individuals, whose questions were well-handled by Frank Bucholtz. In fact, Bucholtz left no room for personal dialogue between a voter and a candidate, which was a blessing. If you have a bone to pick, talk about it over coffee. Some of the questions were common knowledge to incumbents, but candidates would have had to spend lengthy hours researching every aspect of township business. There is no administrative staff for candidates to investigate issues whose answers might not even be public. I'd compare this to the Iraq War and those who voted for invading, then whined that they were given the incorrect information. It's their job to get the information if they are sitting in the U.S. Senate--a far cry from running for council in a moderately sized town like Langley.

Forum questions need to be posed so that an element of background information is given to each candidate beforehand. Leveling the playing field is the best thing we can do. Several of the new candidates are some of the brightest and most diligent people I know, but it's a lopsided playing field when one half of the candidates know the issue inside out and the other half possess a superficial knowledge of a topic that's make its way around the staff offices and into the "in camera" meetings.

So let's compensate and give some exposure to
Sukhi Dhami
Bev Dornan
Rick Green (mayor)
Murray Jones
Janet Megahy
Sonya Paterson
Dan Sheel
Glen Tomblin

Learning about these candidates is a responsibility to be carried by the media--both virtual and print--because none has a voting record...yet.
Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for many years. She is the recognized champion of the environment and a community activist in Langley and other adjoining communities. View her full bio and read all her LFP postings at this link. Editor-LFP...

No comments:

Post a Comment