Michaels: Don’t blame the elected for the faults of the electorate

The new Canadian MP who was elected with little more than a mixology certificate to her credit, is the lead in my new favourite Cinderella story.

The new Canadian MP who was elected with little more than a mixology certificate to her credit, is the lead in my new favourite Cinderella story. Or, as it will be known if she and the CBC survive the next four years, The Story of how MP Ruth-Ellen Brosseau went from national joke to political powerhouse—fingers crossed.

Brosseau, as we’ve all learned by now, managed to be elected in a riding to which she’d never been until Wednesday. She can’t communicate with the largely French-speaking constituents of Berthier-Maskinongé, because she’s an anglophone. And it seems as though bio details, such as her level of education, may have been fudged.

She’s being portrayed as all sorts of dodgy, but what’s straightforward is that the bartender ran as a placeholder candidate with the expectation of losing.

Famously going for a trip to Las Vegas instead of campaigning, she still managed to get 22,403 ballots on May 2, more than 5,700 votes ahead of the Bloc Québécois runner-up.

Since the national media started dispersing information on this particular member of the fresh-faced crew heading to Ottawa to face off against the Conservatives, there’s been a lot of discussion in our office about the shemozzle. It’s the NDP’s fault for not properly vetting candidates, some say.

She should just be summarily fired for her dearth of credibility, say others.

I, however, think she’s right where she should be; giving the job of MP the good ol’ college barkeeper try, as she was elected to do.  And I hope she does it well; for her sake, not her constituents.

Brosseau’s resumé may make it seem as though she’s  woefully unprepared for the position, but the role of national whipping-woman for a topsy turvy election isn’t fair.

If blame needs to be cast—which it doesn’t—it should be on the electorate, not the elected.

It’s like Catch 22 author Josef Heller said: “In democracy you get the government you deserve. Alternately you deserve the government you got.”

We, as Canadians, kibitz a lot about the Stephen Harpers and Jack Laytons of politics, but even during the height of local campaigns it’s rare to hear someone wax on about the qualifications of the candidates on their own ballot.

How many people in the Okanagan, for example, knew anything about the candidates who were putting their time and reputations on the line to represent them in Ottawa?

Surely, few, because the way the vote results rolled out was far too reflective of the national picture to indicate any insight on the part of the electorate.

People speak all the time about a broken system, but in light of the Brosseau situation I’m more inclined to focus my concern on the broken Canadian. It’s one thing to regret a decision, it’s another to try and rationalize those choices by debasing another to the degree that Brosseau’s being debased.

So here’s to Brosseau—may she prove the hoards wrong in the next four years as she learns the political ropes, and perhaps inspire others to start getting involved in the process.

That would be a Cinderella story worth repeating.

Kathy Michaels is a staff reporter for the Kelowna Capital News.




Kelowna Capital News