Monday, April 18, 2011

Political Invitation : An Update

My husband and I have always been polar opposites, politically-speaking, which has made for some loud, tense moments in our marriage. As expected, whenever we attempted even a general discussion about the state of the nation, things quickly unravelled and it often took days to come back from a door-slamming, finger-pointing, hair-pulling, political "discussion".

To survive, we agreed to disagree, avoid all conversation that may lead to a "lively discussion" and look away as we cast our votes. This "don't ask, don't tell" policy has been working for us for a few years now and I'm happy to report that lately, we've been able to offer gentle opinions without bloodshed.

Last week, I crossed all lines when I openly expressed my frustration about the upcoming federal election.

"How am I supposed to choose when it feels as though NO ONE is trustworthy, " I fumed, half to my husband, half to the air. "It's frustrating because they all have something worth believing in, but not ENOUGH to win my vote."

My husband nodded agreement - not yet willing to commit to an out-loud reply.

"And another thing, " I continued, encouraged by Mark's silence, "I need to be sure that the local guy, the one I'm actually voting for, is trustworthy, too. Why am I focusing so much on the federal debates? Do you think most Canadians vote for their local candidates or for those we see on TV? What are YOU gonna do?"

 Mark shrugged. "For once, Liz, I am not arguing with you. I don't know, either. I'm sort of waiting for you to work it out for yourself and then I'll do the opposite."

I tossed a throw pillow at his head and we both laughed, relieved to have made through the conversation alive.

 But I remained perplexed and later, impulsively fired off an invitation to the local election candidates to visit my home and convince me to vote for them. Blogged it. I waited another day before sending it to the local paper, but did post a link on Twitter and to my Facebook page.

Oversharing. It's what I do!

Since then, the letter has made the rounds on Twitter, across my friends' FB pages and the traffic here at Life With Bellymonster has been through the roof. In and of itself, that part's been pretty cool. I love that so many people have written to me, expressing their frustrations and hopes for their own family's future. For many, I gave voice to their own thoughts and they simply wanted to say thank you.

The letter was printed in the Belleville Intelligencer on Saturday, and has garnered a few replies and a few more phone calls. Cynicism aside, the question is always the same: is anyone coming to visit?

So far, I have received one reply. Pat Larkin, the Green Party candidate here, wrote a lengthy letter early Saturday morning. In it, he expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to share his - and his party's -vision for the future and his hope that we might find a time to sit and talk, over coffee.

I've since prepared a list of questions specific to his party's platform and my own perceptions of it, and look forward to meeting with him, ideally this week.

From the others? Nothing. Not one word.

As of this posting, I've not heard, received or read a single response from any other local candidate. In all honesty, I expected to receive a gentle "we're-very-busy-here's-some-literature" response from everyone. And while I'd have been disappointed, I wouldn't have been surprised. It's a busy time for all candidates and they have many commitments to keep. I know that. Appreciate it, even.

But at the silence, I am both surprised AND disappointed. I realize that mine is but a single vote and in the larger scheme of things, means very little. But it still matters - locally and otherwise.

Doesn't it?

What do you think? Did I expect too much? Do I still?


  1. What strikes me most about your message is how profound an impact being without work for 6 months can have on a Canadian family. I was off for 6 months in 2009 (and my self-employment status at the time rendered me ineligible for EI), and am still tidying up the mess of it. I took full-time work and paused the business that had paid my way for 7 years. So many in my close-knit circles have had the same experience in recent years, I'd just accepted it as the "norm" and not an exception. I am a well educated, well employed single mother of two - with a six figure income and we eat a lot of pancakes. I am counting down the minutes to September 2011 when my 6-year starts full day school. My monthly daycare expense is currently higher than my mortgage. I worry about interest rates more than food or fuel costs.

  2. Anon, above all others, in my opinion, yours is the vote that matters most. YOU are raising the future and you do so on your own. Many, many kudos!

    Daycare costs are scarily high - if we were to have ours in care, it would sink us. Literally.

    No, our debt is not the government's doing - we borrowed against our line of credit to renovate a house we later sold, at a loss, because we had to follow the work. But you're so bang on when you say that the impact of sudden employment is profound. In many ways, it's only VERY recently that we've begun to move forward from it all - financially and otherwise.

    I wish you well as you navigate these new waters, Mama. Stay the course!

  3. I'm truly surprised you haven't heard anything, especially from the Liberal and NDP candidates. I'm sure Mr. Kramp figures he has this one in the bag, but you'd think the others who are really fighting for their spot would be banging down your door in an effort to get your vote. I would imagine there are probably lots of doors they knock on who want nothing to do with them - it baffles me that they are ignoring someone trying to educate themselves.

  4. Please, oh please, be sure to take a picture of Mr. Pat Larkin in your fabulous blue kitchen for me. And, if it's not too much can you have him autograph it and send it on? Saying something to the effect of: Dear Rebecca, Elizabeth is one of the most delightful and intelligent Canadians I have ever met.


  5. ^^^ I will certainly ask him, Bec! Especially if he says those lovely, lovely things! Ha!

    Off the the Election Debates - should be interesting!

  6. I am impressed and emboldened by you putting yourself out there and asking great questions.

    Here's to getting answers.

  7. I am the Eglinton Lawrence (Toronto) Green Party of Canada volunteer campaign manager that orchestrated Mr. Larkin's reply to you via my friendship with one of your readers.

    We are listening. Your voices have informed and will continue to improve our party platform.

  8. Thank you, Ms. Hegarty.

    I sincerely appreciate that you're reading AND listening. Mine is a lone voice, but still, as the Green Party clearly recognizes, deserves to be heard.