I arrived at ‘Gramma’s Pub’ early and read the paper in order to kill the time until Camp arrived. I have stopped reading the local papers a couple of years ago because I could watch the news on the computer and I also couldn’t stand all the advertising throughout the print media. The news of the day was all about the change in the provincial government, a tenuous mandate at best with just one vote majority for the New Democrats thanks to a coalition with the three Green Party members. Campbell or Camp as the world here knows him showed up right on time and I noticed a bit of a swagger to his step.
“Hey Camp, you look like you had a good day at the store or does it have something to do with Muriel? Muriel Bisset is the Quebecois counsellor on the local town council and as of lately a rather close associate of Camp who is in complete denial about his true feelings for her, which are apparent to everybody, including Vicky the waitress. “Hi Camp, how is Muriel?” she asked him while setting a pint in front of him. “Eh, just fine, thank you,” he mumbled.
When I raised a questioning eyebrow he elaborated: “In fact she decided to support my proposal for the yacht club expansion. With a few tons of rock we can build a new breakwater and double the capacity of floats and boat slips which is a cheap and efficient way to boost the local economy,” Camp said. “No expensive buildings, no land use, just a water use permit from the feds and we’re in business. Mooring capacity for pleasure boats is at a premium all over the lower mainland and we have the space, the place and now we have the means to address that.”
“Congratulations. I guess you two will celebrate your political victory.”
“Well, yes, she has invited me to dinner tomorrow, but you know her daughter Sophie will also be there.”
I didn’t say anything, just winked at him and took a swallow of my beer.
To change the subject I asked Camp what he thought of the latest power swap in Victoria. “I guess a change in government is a good thing but I don’t like the fact that no matter who governs here in BC, or Canada and the US for that matter, only represents half of the populations. The other half is left out of the process altogether and can only vote again in four years.”
“What would you prefer Camp? A monarchy, a military dictatorship? Democracy is still the best form of government or as Winston Churchill said: Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
“I like the Swiss government,” I pointed out, “seven Councillors elected by their peers, representing the major parties of which there are at least five as well as the choice to have a plebiscite on any issue. All the Swiss citizens have to do is collect a certain amount of signatures and the issue will have to be voted on by the people .”
“Yes, I like it too, “ Camp nodded, “except that those parties with the most money can outspend everybody else with propaganda and one could say manipulation.”
“It’s not perfect, but it’s better than being powerless and a mere spectator of the political charade played out in our houses of parliament for the next four years.”
“At least in Switzerland the people have a choice. Here, once the party with the most elected members – not necessarily the most votes – rules the roost, the other members or parliament who represent the other half of the population has no recourse, no power and no choices. They can howl at the moon all they want and nobody listens and all their howling and posturing has no consequences.”
Camp was right of course and I said that much. “It’s our system that is in need of an overhaul. You only have to look south to see what’s happening in the mighty USA where none of the people seem to be represented by the politicians, never mind only half.”
“The US is a plutocracy, not a democracy,” Camp said. “Only millionaires and celebrities have the clout and the money to get elected there. And if only half the eligible voters cast a ballot, then a mere quarter of the population is represented by the ones in power, not counting all of those millions of people who are excluded from the voting process for one reason or another. No wonder people stay away from the polls in droves, especially when the choice is between the ‘wicked witch of the West or Darth Vader.”
“And then the newly elected party spends most of their time cancelling policies and laws the party before them enacted. What a waste of time.”
“Let’s just hope that our present new government does what they’ve promised,” Camp said.
“What’s that?” I asked
“Listen to the people.”
“That’s almost as refreshing as this cold beer here Camp. Imagine: Power to the people.”
We raised our glasses to that. Cheers !