Election in a pandemic (August 29, 2021)

Good Sunday Morning!

And we are entering the third week of a very brief election campaign.  22 days to go!

The most frustrating thing for me in election campaigns is that all normal work stops.  For me, this means I am no longer “technically” a Member of Parliament.  The various government departments we have been pressing for action, no longer reply to requests for help for constituents or major issues of all kinds.  My amazing staff still works in the constituency office, being as creative as possible to make progress. But there is a suspension of normal work.  This also happens within government.  Ministers shift to a “caretaker” role.

I cannot help but believe the abandonment of thousands of Afghani civilians with ties to Canada and its allies, would not have been as extreme without the election. We could have done a better job in moving to rescue as many as possible if not for the election.  I am sick with worry for the women of Afghanistan.  A number of my friends in this area have close ties with civil society, Afghan women parliamentarians and women’s groups now falling into the hands of the Taliban.

We have known for months that this was a predictable event.  Back in early July, Gwynne Dyer wrote, “Kabul may fall in a lot less than six months. The Taliban already hold at least half the country and they are currently taking new districts literally every day.” (The Hill Times,  Afghanistan’s likely fall: Taliban look to take over country after troop withdrawal, July 7, 2021) https://www.hilltimes.com/2021/07/07/afghanistans-likely-fall-taliban-look-to-take-over-country-after-troop-withdrawal/305264

If parliament had been in session, that news would have led me to request that the Speaker allow an emergency debate. But the House was in recess, and all anyone wanted to talk about was the looming election. We were reeling from heat dome and deaths from heat stroke, raging wildfires and the climate emergency, but still, I think we could have raised awareness of the threat to Afghanistan and the urgent imperative to get as many as possible to safety. All I could do this week was send a donation to Amnesty International to help the women of Afghanistan. I encourage you to do the same. https://www.amnesty.ie/donations/donate-afghanistan/

Turning to news from the campaign trail, I am happy to report that all our signatures are in. I am officially on the ballot – and I have voted!

The visit to the Returning Officer at Mary Winspear Centre gave me the chance to vote.  I decided to vote early, when there were no line ups.  A lot of people do not know that you can vote any day! As soon as the writ drops, you can vote.  The ballots are not yet printed of course. The deadline to get the signatures for candidates is 2 pm tomorrow. So, we do not yet know how many other candidates will be running here in Saanich-Gulf Islands.  If you want to drop into Mary Winspear Centre, you just write in the full name of the candidate of your choice.

You can also go on line to Elections Canada to request a mail in ballot. ttps://www.elections.ca/content2.aspx?section=vote&document=index&lang=e The advance polls will be September 10-13. And, of course, election day is September 20.

I picked up some more intelligence from the Returning Office.  We will have only 11 locations for advance polls, about half what we had in the past.  Due to COVID and the Delta variant, Elections Canada cannot use elementary schools for polling stations.  Other news is even more disturbing,

Both the young and the old will have additional barriers to voting. There will be no polling stations on university campuses.  The snap election just did not give Elections Canada time to organize this. I personally find this inexplicable and unacceptable. LeadNow has started a petition to demand that Elections Canada revisit and correct this position.

https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/elections-canada-open-voting-booths-and-special-balloting-on-campus

I have not heard it reported anywhere that polling stations will also not be set up in seniors residences- due to COVID.  Elections Canada is offering to train willing staff from seniors’ homes to allow them to conduct voting.  But how many people know this?   I will be pursuing this inequity in coming days. For now, please help me spread the word.

This snap election is already proving all the various ways that an election in a pandemic is a mistake.

As ever, the wonderful community groups of Saanich-Gulf Islands are rising to the occasion.  Already there are seven all candidates debates planned. The first will be tomorrow on CFAX Radio from 12:30 to 1:30. All candidates will participate virtually.  Lucky it is virtual, as I had already promised to go to Mission to campaign for Nicole Bellay in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon. I would have hated to re-schedule Mission, but I would have because candidates’ debates here at home have always been my priority.

So please listen in. Keep an eye on the election website “elizabethmay.ca” for other election updates.  After Monday and CFAX, the next scheduled debate is not until after Labour Day on September 7, hosted by Salt Spring Forum, and also virtual. You can send questions to the candidates in advance by emailing:  forum@saltspringforum.com

As ever, I am so grateful to all our loyal and dedicated supporters and volunteers. Looking forward to seeing many of you – at social distance – at the Saanich Fair!

Wherever you are across Canada, please support your local Green candidate.

I know we are going to surprise a lot of the naysayers in this election. More Canadians than ever want to cast their vote for the climate.

Please hang on to hope and vote Green!

 

Love,

Elizabeth

P.S. A candidate I really know needs help is Adeana Young in Skeena Bulkley Valley.  She is a fantastic Haida candidate, currently on a local school board, but best known as one of the leads in the amazing Haida-language film “Edge of the Knife.” She is also the newly named critic for the Green Party for Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs.  Her riding is over 300,000 square kilometres. So just getting around in the riding is very expensive.  I would appreciate your donations to help Adeana win that seat!   https://www.greenparty.ca/en/riding/2013-59028

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *