Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan
Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan
Here’s today’s riveting topic: not COVID nor the lockdowns, not on-line schooling, nothing about the trout season, just opened, and no predictions about high water, black flies, wild parsnip, nor even the state of our roads. Our topic is the municipal elections coming this fall, and it is riveting because elections impact some part of every day of the lives of every one of us … for the next four years. Black flies, wage subsidies, and even COVID counts won’t do that.
The point is that, no matter our participation, we always end up with municipal councils and mayors. They’re essential. So shouldn’t we take our local governance as a serious and personal matter? We do end up with pretty good councils and mayors, no matter the public’s enthusiasm, but we are adult citizens and this is the time to fulfill some of our duties of citizenship. And complaining is not a civic responsibility despite what many of us seem to believe.
Plan to vote: Read the campaign literature and newspaper interviews –
listen to your neighbours – for the widest grasp of local issues. That’s the challenge, even though it’s such an easy prescription to fulfill.
A second consideration is the "who": who is running for office? Being a
relative or friend is not enough, and what about you, personally? This can be a stimulating part-time occupation, significantly contributing to our communities’ needs. I understand people with vision and energy, and the time to fill a municipal office are few; that’s fine. But evaluate your skills and strengths, before declining to run for a council seat.
The Pontiac already has experienced municipal office-holders, and there are few qualifications as important as experience – although this means all experience, not only political experience. We share a wealth of experience: Pontiac’s population is weighted toward the retired, and many have the time to contribute,
plus the experience. With Ottawa nearby, many are retired civil servants – these folks have experience managing files, projects, people, complaints and issues. Let’s encourage these retired, well-qualified neighbours to throw their hats into
The retired include former businesspeople, farmers, and company employees, teachers and professionals of all sorts: consider the experiential wealth they can call upon to benefit our towns. Each could bring valuable hard-nosed skills and expertise to our council tables. Encourage them – and then support them at the ballot box.
Another consideration is that this is the era of "Idle No More", "Me Too", "Black Lives Matter", and all sorts of campaigns to redress gaps in modern society, and especially in rural constituencies. Youths and minorities, new-comers and immigrants, women (grandmothers to young women) – 2021 challenges us to put more of these faces and voices on our councils. They will create a more robust governance process; they can bring to the table vastly wide-ranging life-experiences with which to deal with local decisions. Difference means a more inclusive, more varied response to community problems; the world is growing more complex and challenging by the day. Wouldn’t it be great to see the ideas and contributions of more women, youths and seniors – plus visible minorities and immigrants from other lands – on Pontiac’s municipal councils? There’s the way to face the future’s challenges!
There are conditions required of candidates, but none very complex
for municipalities under 5,000, which includes all of MRC Pontiac; the Municipality of Pontiac (in MRC des Collines) has a population of 5,986. Usually a candidate must have lived in her or his community for 12 months prior to the election, and have filed nomination papers 30 days before the election – forms are available from the municipal returning officer in every town hall. Some training is offered in some jurisdictions. There are rules for fundraising and election spending (Quebec will reimburse much of your campaign expenses), and each candidate needs an "official agent" who oversees the paper work, campaign fundraising and advertising. It can be your sister or partner!
November 7 is Election Day. There’s time to consider …