Monday, 27 October 2008

Some Reflections from an Election Campaign

Filipiniana News - Rhyme or Reason
15 October 2008

The Canadian federal election results have been released and we have another minority Conservative government.   Whether this is good or disappointing news for some, one thing is for sure: there are important lessons to be learned from the five-week campaign period that preceded the October 14 elections.

First of all, as it appears that we are almost in the very same situation that we were in before the election was called, people are left wondering whether all the expense and effort was worth it.   From a financial standpoint, most will likely say no, as millions of dollars have been spent on campaign ads and election expenses with the end result of simply maintaining the status quo.  Why did we have to go through all that trouble and spend so much money in the process?

From a more optimistic viewpoint, the campaign period served as a wake-up call not only for politicians, but also for the general population.  The campaign period helped to ignite passions and educate the people on significant issues that they would not otherwise have given more thought about.  For instance, the extensive coverage given to the environmental concerns has awakened many into realizing the extreme importance of protecting our natural habitat.  Failure to do so endangers not only our very lives but also those of future generations.  If only for the very purpose of raising people’s awareness of this very basic but absolutely significant issue, the election exercise could not simply be dismissed as a total waste.

The campaign period also served as a reminder for our politicians that their words and promises can and do come back to haunt them.  Campaign speeches are known to be a fertile ground for promising heaven on earth, which promises tend to be forgotten once the party or candidate is elected to power.   If there are politicians who still think that they can get away with such folly, then they must have realized by now that they are clearly mistaken.  

It had likewise been almost serendipitous that the short election campaign period in Canada coincided with the recent economic downturns not only in North America but also worldwide.   The recent weeks have certainly been a roller coaster ride for many, particularly the stockbrokers, the politicians, the banks, investors, etc..  The sudden collapse of world economies have brought back fears of another recession, causing panic among some sectors of the population.   One important thing that was emphasized through all these is that greed will eventually take its toll.  It is about time that those with power and wealth realize that these possessions are fleeting.  It will thus make much more sense to end the culture of accumulation and selfishness and instead consider effective ways of redistributing excessive wealth and using power for the greater good.

For instance, as we went through this recent political exercise, worried about plunging stock markets and devalued currencies, millions of men, women and children in other parts of the world are dying from severe starvation, curable diseases and untreated ailments on a daily basis.  We need to be reminded that there are hordes of people in developing and underdeveloped countries where the most basic rights to food, shelter, clothing and education are but a distant dream.  There are still those who suffer the most cruel forms of torture and other types of inhuman and undeserved punishment, those who live in the midst of a protracted war, those who live in constant fear and injustice and various forms of human rights violations. 

While the recently concluded election campaign also tackled issues of poverty, crime and the environment within our borders, it should have also served as a reminder that our country is not isolated from the rest of the world.  The need to reach out and assist people especially in poorer countries is a serious responsibility that Canada should not ever neglect.  Yes, there are problems within this country that have yet to be resolved.  But their solutions are clearly intertwined with a clear vision and sincere efforts to cooperate with the rest of the world in making this a better place in which to live not just for Canadians, but for all of our fellow human beings.

The author is a lawyer in Toronto and may be reached at mdsantos@osgoode.yorku.ca