An unfortunate trend has been occurring: my supporters are hesitant to put a sign on their lawn.
At first I figured that their support might be a little soft, so then I’d have to work harder to earn their commitment.
“No, Michael, we’re behind you 200 percent,” they’d say, “We just don’t want a sign on our lawn.”
“Why not?” I’d ask?
“We put a sign on our lawn the last time you ran, and you wouldn’t believe what the neighbours would say to us!”
“What would they say?”
“Get that *blankety-blank* Liberal sign off your lawn! This is Conservative country, we don’t vote Liberal here! And I don’t want to see that *blankety-blank* sign every time I pull out of my driveway!”
Or, people put a sign on their lawn KNOWING that it will provoke a confrontation with neighbours who would use the same script of “This is Conservative country, don’t you dare vote for a Liberal!”
Yikes. I thought this was Canada, not North Korea.
At first I thought that this might just be a few people who live near come cranky Conservative supporters. But as the campaign has been progressing, I’ve been hearing more and more people who say that they’ve experience hostility from Conservatives. They’ve been personally insulted for wearing a Michael Cormican pin, or been flipped the bird from a car driving by.
And so I don’t push the issue with people. I obviously don’t put a sign where people don’t want one. I don’t want my campaign to intrude on the sanctuary that is their home. After all, they have to live in their neighbourhoods long after this campaign is finished.
This isn’t to say that I believe that there’s a widespread conspiracy on the part of the CPC to suppress our democratic freedoms, but I worry that a few Conservative supporters have an overinflated sense of entitlement when it comes to elections. For a vocal minority of Conservatives, voting for another party is tantamount to treason. Such an attitude poisons our democracy.
And we see this sense of entitlement in full bloom with Conservative candidate Jim Hillyer deciding that he won’t publicly defend the Conservative record or answer tough questions from his opponents. Clearly, he’s banking on southern Albertans to vote Conservative out of culture or habit, regardless of the platform or quality of the candidate, or even hearing from him. He’s obviously taking YOUR vote for granted.
But there is an alternative.
I am working hard to earn every vote. I try to answer every question I get asked. I am knocking on doors, visiting senior facilities, dropping by on businesses, talking to people on the street, chatting with students, and participating in public forums. I am listening to YOU.
I believe Lethbridge is a place where democracy flourishes, where people take an active role in the growth of their community, where the marketplace of ideas vibrates with energetic debate. I believe Lethbridge is a riding of new opportunities and fresh possibilities.
And I’m disappointed that the Conservative candidate doesn’t share my belief in what this riding can accomplish.