Camp was already into his beer when I got to the pub. I wasn’t late, he was just early. “Slow day at the old book store? I asked.
“You could say that. I just didn’t feel like hanging around any longer, staring out the window and twiddling my thumbs. It’s one of the privileges of running my own small business. I can come and go as I like.”
“It’s almost like retirement,” I said.
“Yes, without the pension and the discounts and plenty of responsibility.” Camp retorted.
“Did you watch the Ontario election last night?’ I asked.
“As you know I don’t have a TV but I saw it on my computer. No surprise there except in the broader sense. It puzzles me how people can elect a guy to run the province and yet he cannot even run his own family business and has no legislative experience.”
“Why do the people keep electing governments that go completely against their interests like poor people supporting a candidate who is owned by the rich.
We keep electing leaders and parties who have no interests in the ordinary people but they get elected on simplistic promises that nobody expects them to keep.”
“Yes, it’s a riddle. Maybe it’s leadership by resentment. Working class whites are frustrated and resentful and perceive social programs geared towards ethnic minorities. So they elect populists who promise to go against the political establishment and change everything.”
“Everybody wants change for the better, mostly for themselves and their own economic position. Everybody wants more money and more rights. The poor as well as the rich,” I said.
“People vote emotionally and the young aren’t interested it seems. Just look at the Brexit analytics. The ones with the least education and the poorest voted for Brexit or look at the Hungarians and Poles. It’s called nationalistic, populist illiberalism but they voted for it, against immigrants and EU policies.”
“The EU is mostly about money.I’ve read that in Poland EU money represents over 60% of infrastructure spending while for Hungary the figure is 55%. Why bite the hand that feeds you?”
“Somebody once said: Democracy is not a paradise, democracy offers the possibility to change what’s bad. With the erosion of democracy that possibility for positive change goes away as well,” Camp said.
We both stared glumly into our stale beers. Luckily Vicky took pity on us and without asking brought around two fresh pints.
“It’s a crazy world out there,” I said, shaking my head. “We have a summit between a mass murderer and a misanthropic man-child touted as the biggest news and now we have Doug Ford in charge of Ontario. It’s driving me to drink,” I said.
“Don’t let me stop you,” Vicky joked, “you’re at the right place.”
“Is there any good news?” I said and then remembered. “Oh yeah, the Senate passed bill C-45 yesterday, the recreational marijuana bill by a vote of 56-30.”
“That’s right and all against were conservative, overpaid non-elected legislators,” Camp said and then added: “Now the House of Commons will have to decide what to do with the over 40 amendments. Then it will have to go back to the Senate for a second vote and it will also require Royal Assent.”
“This will take months I said, “and it will be so complicated and restrictive that it will barely change anything.”
“We should just concentrate on what’s important like the upcoming World Cup in Russia and the sunny weather,” Camp said. “I even got myself a TV from the thrift store in order to watch a few games at work.”
“You’re right of course. It’s no use getting frustrated and depressed by events and situations outside our limited sphere of influence and control. As Clare puts it: It’s the small things in life that count: a blooming flower, a dinner with friends, a decent bottle of wine, a good night sleep and a clear conscience.”
“I second all that but I still can’t believe they voted in Doug Ford as premier of Ontario.”
“It is democracy at it’s worst,” I conceded, drowning my disappointment.