April 23, 2019

Article at respectnews.ca

In elections, my welcome mat is out for almost everyone

I learned a long time ago that it’s a mistake to be loyal to a political party.

Politics is not like sports—I will support the Saskatchewan Roughriders, for example, even when they are the worst team in the league. And believe me, it happens. But in an election, with real consequences, it would be dumb to support even the second-best candidate, let alone the worst candidate on the ballot, just because they represent my “favourite” party.

And so, every election, my vote is available. I may support a leader or a party platform, or I may favour a local candidate. If they want my vote, they have a chance to earn it. They can’t write me off as hostile or unsympathetic, but they can’t take me for granted either.

As such a paragon of open-mindedness, I welcome candidates who come door-knocking at election time. I won’t give them the commitment they’re looking for, but I can accept their materials and send them on their way with a bit of encouragement.

In a big rural riding like ours, it’s not realistic to expect every candidate to visit every voter. The only one to find me at home this time was Glenn Andersen from the Alberta Party. We had a brief, cordial chat. I thanked him for coming by and wished him luck.

But friends, I have my limits. If you come to my door peddling separatist nonsense, don’t expect a welcome. I will be polite, but I won’t be patient for long. You will be told to leave.

I’m a Canadian, born and raised on the Prairies. I’ve had the privilege of living in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. I have good friends from all of the other provinces. I have visited every province and territory in this fair dominion, and I had the honour of wearing the uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces for almost three decades.

Our Canadian heritage offers us plenty of shared history we can be proud of, and plenty of shameful episodes as well. I will own it all. It’s all part of who I am.

Some of our federal arrangement is imperfect. Some of it is seriously flawed. All of it can be addressed when we work in good faith, whether we are cooperating or challenging each other. Even if you don’t think this is the greatest place in the world to live, you’re a fool to think we’re better off tearing it down and starting over.

And shame on the mainstream politicians I heard wielding the “threat” of separatism as some kind of warning. Yes, Albertans are angry. Yes, we’re frustrated. But less than one per cent of us could take the Alberta Independence Party seriously enough to vote for them. We are intelligent people, don’t sell us short.

If you run for office on a separatist platform, I’ll give you credit for having the courage of your convictions.

But I won’t give you the time of day.