My quest for voting clarity has drawn to a close. Here's the sum up:
Last week, I met Pat Larkin, the youngest - and greenest, coincidentally enough - candidate. Immediately drawn to his direct gaze, easy confidence and unadorned speech, I was further impressed when he was able to quote directly from my letter, while addressing the issues expressed therein. Pat's sincerity and faith in Elizabeth May's Green Party has stayed with me and I'm delighted to report that due to Facebook/blog updates about his quick response to my invitation, several of my previously non-voting friends have pledged to vote Green this election. Ah, the power of Pat and the pen!
On Monday, a tall and graceful Michael McMahon filled my doorway and then these tiny rooms with his musical voice. While the children ran amok his gaze never wavered from mine as he verbally mapped out the NDP's vision for Canada's future. Educated, well-travelled and well-spoken, Michael has not forgotten the challenges of raising two small children in an uncertain world. Perhaps this is why, in his company, I felt not only understood, but also heard and therefore grateful. Fuelled by his own passion for this country and his belief that Jack Layton is the best man for the job, Mr. McMahon swiftly gained my attention and my respect.
Wednesday morning, Luke in tow, I met Liberal candidate Peter Tinsley. We chatted easily, as we had done two nights earlier on the phone. What struck me immediately was the incongruity between Peter's shock of white hair and his youthful smile and boundless energy. He spoke generously of his boss, Michael Ignatieff, and with fierce pride, offered up his party's plans for a stable economic future and safe harbour for our aging population. Impressed as I was by his intelligence and warm welcome, I was also impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of his office staff - for the Liberal cause but mostly, for Peter himself. Powerful and smart.
Yesterday afternoon, the ferocious wind blew Conservative candidate (and present MP) Daryl Kramp through the kitchen door and into the chaos of my child-filled house. Affable and relaxed, he spent more than an hour with us, describing his reasons for choosing to run for office again and offering several examples of how his party consistently strives for balance. I surprised myself by enjoying his visit as much as I did. Even when I expressed my discontent with the Harper government specifically, Daryl listened thoughtfully and replied with consideration and aplomb. He is a genuine gentleman and in asking Daryl Kramp to run, Stephen Harper chose wisely.
Throughout the week, I have received several emails and had many conversations with friends and family, wondering if I've made a decision. Yes, I have, but if anything, meeting my local candidates has made the decision more difficult because each man so eloquently and passionately believes that his party is the best one for our country. It's been a wonderful conundrum, actually. One I'm very grateful to have muddled through.
On the whole, the election candidates of Prince Edward-Hastings have taught me and my children a valuable lesson about being a part of the democratic process. No textbooks will ever give them such a tangible, vivid example of the power of one's voice, raised.
Because of this, I implore my fellow Canadians, especially those of us who've ridden our parents' political coattails for too long, to set aside your apathy and discontent and do what's right. Be, as the saying goes, the change that you want to see in the world.
On May 2nd, 2011, vote.
Make your voice and your power heard, on election day. For my children. And for yours: