----In The Fog

FTLComm - Tisdale - November 28, 2000

put up or
shut up

Yesterday it was time to put up or shut up. On Ensign I had endorsed David Orchard and when his office called and asked me to serve as a scutineer I felt it was my duty to act in that capacity so from noon yesterday until 9:45 I acted as representative at poll 117 in Tisdale a candidate for the election.




After going to the various authorities in the RecPlex voting station I filed the appropriate papers with the "DRO" (deputy returning officer) for poll 117. Using an alpha listing of the voters list I caught up with the cooperative NDP scrutineer and soon had stroked off all those who had voted and by two in the afternoon one hundred and forty folks had cast their ballots including those who had voted in the week earlier option.



electoral process

As we sat there we had time to tell stories, and pass the time in a pleasant way. This was not a time for politics, the campaign was over it was now time to give credibility and verify the legitimate electoral process.




Mid way through the afternoon the electric power went off casting the huge room into darkness and the officials promptly stopped the voting process and kept the arriving voters waiting outside in the hallway until the power came back on some ten minutes later.




From four until seven there were a steady flow of people coming and going through the voting process. Most people brought the card provided them making it easy for them to get their ballot and be on their way. Those who forgot were looked up on the list and though slower they too made their choice. For those not on the list which was essential the 1997 voters list, they had to go to the registration desk and fill out a form which they brought back to the poll but the system worked. The voter's list we had listed almost four hundred voters included a few who had died since the last election, some had moved away. Among those on the list was the name of FRIPP, BRIAN HENRY, the Conservative candidate who ran in the last election and died shortly after, it was touching as we discussed his passing the consequences to the community and the life of this remarkable man.




Only a few voters showed up after 8:00 and at 8:30 the counting process began. Some polls saw everyone huddle around a single table others remained seated as that had through the day, which is what we did. The Deputy Returning Officer removed each ballot, unfolded it and whispered the results, each scrutineer had tally sheets but I could not detect anything she was saying and merely watched. After a while I figured out who was in each pile as she made her way along. It was not that she was trying to be inaudible she just had a quiet voice and I am hard of hearing, such is life.




From the first minutes of the counting the results were absolutely clear. Fitzpatrick of the Canadian Alliance would win our poll with the NDP and Liberals about even and David Orchard would garner a mere half the votes of either the Liberal or the NDP while the charming and good natured Benjamin Webster of the Green party would see only one ballot cast for him. But once the totals were established the whole documentation of the poll had to be packaged and we dutifully witnessed and signed off the whole procedure.



deep fog

Around three in the afternoon Tisdale had been engulfed in a deep fog and when I emerged from the RecPlex, tired and hungry everything was coated in the white of white frost.




Was this fog an omen of some kind. An election once over is a relief to the winners and the losers alike, they went at it they did their best and now it is over, things should be clearer not cloaked in fog.



nothing achieved

As I watched the returns on television it was clear that my predictions had occurred So much so I could have written the morning after report in June. The Canadian Alliance simply retook the seats held by Reform, perhaps gained a few percentage points in the West in a pointless crusade to overwhelm the area where they were already overly popular. The Liberals made excellent gains in Quebec and Ontario, true to form voted for the government. The election would see a few less NDP in the house and Joe Clark would represent Calgary. Essentially nothing substantial had been achieved.




The best quote of the night came from Joe Clark as he referred to those who harped about family values and Joe pointed out that in his family they put it into practice. Joe had spent as little as four days in his riding campaigning while Maureen McTeer, his wife, and his daughter Katherine went out and beat the pavement, hammered the doors, made the speeches and won the election for Joe. (In my life I have met many politicians as has my wife but together the one that absolute amazed us with her strength conviction and common sense is Maureen McTeer. My wife was totally impressed with the woman at a convention mostly by her presence, confidence and plain simple competence that she demonstrates in life.)



Family Compact

Before the election was called I reported to you that the main issue, that of national unity would be worsened by this election and yet throughout it we heard little or nothing about the problem and the results show glaringly the deep and harsh reality. The Prime Minister's attention and money paid off with seats from his home province and the view of the world that comes from Alberta had no shared response from Ontario or Quebec and definitely not the Maritimes Frozen in time, frozen in effectuality our country is on hold much as had been the case prior to confederation when the "Family Compact" controlled Upper and Lower Canada. A log jam of power dedicated to its own needs and oblivious to most of the land mass of the country.



quick fix

We have two choices, clear and simple, we hunker down and live with the way things are, making the best of being a colony and treated as unwanted colonials, or we begin today to organise a real national movement to unite the country around a nation state, with a national purpose and reflecting the ideals of all people from Coast to Coast to Coast. The second alternative is a hard one, do we have the stamina, the guts to go with such a bold venture? I know people who have but most of those who voted for the Alliance, the majority, are the quick fix bunch, they are unlikely to accept a vision, unlikely to support a national unity crusade and they will opt for option one.
  Sadness descends upon us in the fog. Let there be light.
  The pictures at the top of this page and the bottom were taken at 10:00 Tuesday night, in the fog and after the election.


Timothy W. Shire