When break-room chatter turns to politics, discussion and disagreement tend to centre on our nationwide or provincial leaders. After all, they’re the ones making the big decisions — committing personnel to far-flung “wars”, approving or denying oil pipelines and supertankers, and grabbing far too many tax dollars while delivering far too few services.
The further removed from your workplace coffee pot or dining table, of course, the easier pols are to criticize. After all, what chance do you have to get their ears? What chance to impact the direction taken by Canada or B.C., outside of quadrennial votes diluted up and down our far-flung riding?
Ah, but municipal elections are another matter entirely.
The smaller the community, the more your voice counts — and they don’t get much smaller than our North Island towns and villages.
In addition, these elected civic officials are your neighbours. Your friends. Possibly your relatives. Certainly the people you do business with on a regular basis.
Most importantly, they are the ones who will make the decisions which will most directly impact your day-to-day life as a North Island resident for the next four years.
If you haven’t yet met the candidates in your village, town or district yet, the next couple of weeks will provide opportunities across the region.
All-candidates meetings have been set for Oct. 29 in both Port Hardy and Port McNeill; for Nov. 3 in Port Alice; and for Nov. 4 in Alert Bay. We urge you to spend the couple of hours that could help set the course for your next four years.
Small-town governance is not a sexy business. If you don’t believe that, attend the next municipal council meeting in your community — you’re likely to find you have the pick of chairs opposite the council table.
But even that unremarkable access shows the benefit of civic governance at the local level. There is no prorogue and hasty retreat out the back door here; no bunker in Victoria, or Vancouver, or Kelowna, or wherever your riding happens to be these days.
If your local elected representatives are not serving the interests of your community and of your neighbours, you can go right up and say so.
We recommend the pre-emptive approach. Go to your local all-candidates meeting. Ask the candidates, before they’re elected, how they feel about the issue or issues that most concern you.
They’ve made the effort and the commitment to serve — it’s up to the rest of us to remind them who they’re serving.