by Pauline Kerr
It is extremely difficult to think in terms of winners and losers when it comes to the recent municipal election.
As far as personal commitment, enthusiasm and a wish to serve their community are concerned, every candidate is a winner, whatever their platform. So, too, is this community.
Out-in-left-field “fringe” candidates have been known to come up with some outlandish ideas during election campaigns. And some of those ideas, with a bit of fine tuning, turn out to be excellent solutions to contentious issues. If conventional solutions have all proved unworkable, it only makes sense to listen to people who “think outside the box” or even refuse to acknowledge there is a box. They might not get many votes, but they have valuable contributions to make to our democratic process.
We must remember that yesterday’s bizarre theory can easily become tomorrow’s accepted fact.
There was a time not so long ago in this country when allowing women to vote was considered a ridiculous notion, contrary to the laws of God and nature. In 2022, women casting their ballots is a given. Women not only vote, but some of the people for whom they vote are women. In fact, 31 per cent of all candidates in Ontario municipal election 2022 were female, up from 27 per cent in 2018.
Some of Ontario’s many female mayors probably had great-grandmothers who fought for the right to vote in federal elections (the right was granted in 1918, with certain exceptions), although voting came earlier for property-owning widows and spinsters in municipal elections (1884 in Ontario).
It should be noted that certain racial groups were much later in getting the vote than women of European heritage. First Nations women – and men – did not have the right to vote in federal elections, without giving up their treaty rights, until 1960. We must not forget that what we regard as offensive when viewed through the lens of 2022 human rights sensibilities, once represented mainstream opinion.
Bravo to every candidate who had the courage to stand up and voice their opinions on various topics of interest to local voters, who gave up countless hours to research the issues and meet with members of the public. As long as people are willing to give so generously of themselves, the future of this municipality is in good hands.
That said, a number of municipalities across the province had candidates run – unsuccessfully – for school board trustee positions on a platform that amounted to turning back the clock to a time when school children were “normal” – or to be more precise, met a fairly narrow definition of normal. One simple reason is the kids who did not meet that definition were not in the regular school system. Those with serious intellectual or physical challenges were sent away to be looked after at residential facilities. Those with learning disabilities or behavioural quirks, or who were somehow “different,” got labeled as bad and expelled.
Welcome to the new millennium, an age when the greatest theoretical physicist and cosmologist in the world, who communicated his brilliant thoughts on black holes through a speech-generating device after ALS claimed his ability to speak, was Stephen Hawking.
If science ever comes up with a way to travel through time and turn back the clock to a different age, then surely it would be to a time when people like Hawking are celebrated for their brilliance, not overlooked, or even worse, discarded because of their differences. It would be to a time when a child whose birth certificate gender does not match their personal identity can grow up in the safety and security of an accepting school system and become a teacher, lawyer, doctor – or elected municipal leader.
One point that might be considered is, should the clock ever be turned back to a time when diversity and inclusion are no longer acceptable in schools, a person who takes a political stand opposing a mainstream view, would never be able to run for public office.