Debate #2 … Calm was too much to hope for

Karen Hirst

Unable to attend the second of three candidate debates presided over by the PRATAC organization, I am unable to comment on any part of the evening’s unfolding in Pakenham.

However, the social media fallout, inclusive of comments that are either “fake news” or “fact”  depending which side of the story you are on, leaves me feeling less hopeful for the prospect of a peaceful, civil run towards the ballot box despite attempts by a few who are demonstrating a desire to engage in constructive dialogue in spite of their differing perspectives … we learn so much more from each other when we listen attentively and share knowledge the other can’t claim as part of their own.

Accusations levelled by one candidate at other candidates regarding supposed tampering with signage and of having conducted a door to door smear campaign against the candidate … this is totally unbelievable in my opinion. If in fact there is proof that signage is being tampered with, it should be reported to the police as it is against the law and if there is no proof of such happenings then it only demonstrates a mean-spirited, untruthful attempt to cause harm to the campaigns and character of competitors … what else can one surmise that it would be?

I just do not see this accusation as being “factual” information but rather a “fake news” diversionary tactic … unless there is proof to the contrary.  I have been accused of being a Pollyanna and I know politics is seen as serious business by some but to have carried out the reported actions that have been revealed on social media today, is beyond what I believe the accused candidates would have ever participated in. From what I have seen by one of the accused, is a busy schedule of dealing with community issues of concern and having the nose to the grindstone while carrying out a hectic campaign schedule.

The second candidate debate did seem to be a stimulus to an increase in the debating of a wide range of issues amongst Facebook followers. Rural land protection versus severances for development, the need for a municipal agricultural subcommittee and the use of and compliance with the law on the rail trail names but a few of today’s discussions. Unfortunately, the to and fro among participants easily ventured into the hard feelings of the past couple of years but someone was always available to extend a lifeline of return to civil dialogue and the relevance to the “now”.

No candidate can control how their competitor chooses to conduct their personal campaign but following Michelle Obama’s now-famous line “when they go low, we go high” seems like the right fit for the majority of the voting public … one grows weary, not just with local bombastic rhetoric, but we are inundated with similar displays in the broader world of politics and find it a complete “turn off ” that can only be relieved by abandonment of candidates through the democratic exercise of casting our voting ballot.

Elections are important, our democracy was hard fought for and offers us the opportunity to select those persons who we individually feel are best suited in credential and in character to lead the drive forward for the health and well-being of those they represent. The bar should be a high reach in order to win the opportunity to be selected as the representative of the majority of voting public, we must avoid the pitfall of striving for the easy, more limited reach.

One final impression I am left with today follows on the heels of a tornado  that has left many families and businesses waking up this morning to the reality of mother nature’s power and how in the blink of an eye life can be turned upside down and inside out….we awaken once again to the knowledge that everything is only on loan with no guarantee of permanence and the realization that when the chips are down for one of us we are all impacted and we rise collectively to make right the ship…we have seen this today in the amazing acts of generosity of spirit in aid of those suffering loss … this too was evident today from all quarters of our social media reach.