Editorials - June 10, 2022
A new low
The June 2 provincial election marked the lowest voter turnout in the province’s history. With the economy in a state of flux, inflation soaring due to post-pandemic supply chain upheaval and the war in Ukraine and hot-button issues like Highway 413, one would be forgiven for thinking that there was a lot at stake at the ballot boxes.
It’s understandable that Ontarians are weary. The pandemic wore us down - we get it. But in the last 20 years, even the highest voter turnouts in this province are considerably lower than the average turnout for the previous century. Now we have sunk to an election in which more people didn’t vote than who did. What does that say for democracy? The pandemic may be a factor, but it is not the whole story. Maybe 21st-century citizens are comfortable enough to leave the concern of running the cities, provinces and the country to others or, perhaps, they are past believing that their say matters. Premier Doug Ford is congratulating himself on a majority government, except that the math doesn’t equate to majority support in the province. The Conservatives won 83 seats but only 1.9 million votes out of a potential 10.7 million voters which is less than 18 per cent of the population.
Society has to do a better job at engaging voters, otherwise a small minority decides everything and the cycle of disillusionment continues. It is often said that “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain” but that is an oversimplification. By voting for the party that most closely represents your values, even if it doesn’t win, your ballot influences choices that future governments make. Your vote could mean that a minority Conservative government has to make concessions to social reform demanded by other parties, or a NDP government would be required to maintain fiscal balance when improving the social safety net. A strong voter turnout creates a much more balanced society. – DS
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other dignitaries were in London to mark the one-year anniversary of a racist attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family. The community of London and much of Canada came together last year to mourn the tragic and senseless loss of a family that was killed not because of something they had done, but because of how they looked and what they believed. At Sunday’s event, Trudeau said that Islamaphobia is an “attack on all Canadians” and told Muslims that “we are all with you”.
While mass shootings in the United States continue to pile up, one horrific and cowardly act quickly replacing the next - to the degree that unless the shootings are clearly racially motivated or involve children they don’t often see much air time, Canada has held this one incident, the tragic killing of the Afzaals, close to their hearts for over a year.
The fact that Canadians have stood by the Afzaals, those they left behind and Muslims throughout the country shows a tremendous level of empathy that feels uniquely Canadian. At a time when people are being made to feel less welcome in many parts of the world, it’s refreshing to see Canadians stand up for their neighbours, friends and fellow Canadians who are part of the Muslim faith.
That kind of empathy and support for one another is what makes Canada and Canadians great. Caring for people, whether they look like you or practise the same faith, is the foundation of what it means to be Canadian. Over the weekend, everyone from our Prime Minister to regular people at events or on social media showed that they won’t let division, cowardice and violence win the day in our country. – SL
A return to normalcy
Northern and central Huron County were the places to be over the weekend, with events keeping people entertained all over the region and, for many, it may have felt like it was a pre-pandemic weekend.
From the Clinton Spring Fair to Brussels Ball Day to Blyth’s Vintage in the Village weekend, there were big events that brought people together in their communities in ways that just haven’t happened regularly since the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020.
While many could look at that and feel we’re getting back to normal, you didn’t have to look very far to see that the pandemic has changed people and, fortunately, it seems to be for the better. Even at outdoor events, people were masking up if they felt they needed to, with some saying they had a sniffle or were worried about passing on a malady, whether it was COVID-19 or the common cold. Those people, caring for their neighbours, represent a return to form for Huron County. This return to normalcy offers us a chance to show who the majority of us really are: good people and good neighbours.
So, welcome the return to pre-pandemic living for two reasons: first, because it allows people to get back to doing what they did and second because it allows people to get back to being who they really are.
Take this chance to put the strife behind you and mend fences, caring for neighbours and regaining the lofty title “Canadian” once was. – JDS