Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Northern Update and How We Vote

Today was an unusual day. The South Slave Divisional Education Council, in essence a school board and my employer, holds meetings once every two months in one of its five communities. The last community is normally Lutsel K’e, a fly-in community on the Great Slave Lake. After getting up at 4:30 and getting ready I boarded a DHC Otter and flew from Fort Smith to Hay River, to Fort Resolution to Lutsel K’e. Once our meeting was complete we returned the way we came depositing staff and our elected representatives as we went.

At one point during the trip I could not help but think, “I imagined I might get a job that required travel, but this is not what I suspected.” There is a certain surreal quality that creeps into my life. I live in a place where small aircraft is often the most effective means of transportation and at the moment the sun is having trouble setting. When I woke up at 4:30 it was bright and sunny, and it never truly becomes night anymore.

The week before I was asked to share my thoughts after three days of meetings between principals, administration staff, literacy coaches and program support teachers (special education). As I often say, I have very little to do with the business of the SSDEC, educating children, but as a somewhat outside observer I find it deeply impressive the dedication and results the educators here achieve despite all of the hardships and challenges. It’s humbling, inspiring and deeply impressive.

Changing gears, as the Ontario election date approaches I increasingly think about how I would vote. This is compounded by the fact that my family often asks me for insight on elections. Not instructions, more like preliminary research and help cut through the noise.

Not being on the ground and dealing with the question concretely I am given the freedom to consider how we pick who we vote for. There are innumerable options which range in the validity. Party, local candidate, ideology, leader, or various ephemeral or superficial considerations all weigh in on the choice. But what if you like the party but don’t like who they are running locally? What if you like your local candidate, but hate the leader/party? What if you like the party, but dislike the current leader?

We only get one vote, yet we are forced to make it do many things. I am a strong opponent to people using phrases like “voters clearly...” or “the people want...”. When asked to boil down all the things you are and believe into a single vote there can be no perfect distillation, even if you were voting for yourself! It’s an interesting challenge, and I am curious to know what qualities voters in Ontario will be considering when they head to the polls in coming weeks. 

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