By Laurent D'Entremont
It’s that time again. An election has been called for Oct. 8, and there is a “bug” in the air these days. This bug is called “Election Fever” and it afflicts a great number of people about every four or five years. The symptoms are very simple. Party workers and politicians try to make their party look good by displaying all the good things they have done in the past and will be doing in the future - like keeping promises they broke in the past. At the same time, they will be working very hard to make all other political parties look bad.
The latter is not a problem, because no matter who is in power, the other parties itching to get elected will get all the help they need from those working on their behalf. This is nothing new. Politicking and patronage have been going on since the days of our first elected representatives. In my grandfather’s day, if your party was in power, in many cases you were eating that summer; cutting brush, working on the road, making repairs to the wharf, making voters list etc.
Those who had oxen would get jobs working on the roads. A heavy team of well-matched white faces could carry a good load of gravel or “hard pan” in their two-wheeled dump cart - the ideal rig for roadwork. That is providing you were on the “right-side” with the road foreman. Some farmers only had one ox, called a “dagan,” and at times, two dagans would be yoked together with a “double yoke” to make a team.
This was very much the case 90 years ago, when two farmers from my French-speaking village teamed up their dagans and dump cart to make one team. This worked well, until someone realized that this arrangement was not politically correct. The Liberals were in power and the man who got the job was Grit, this was the way it was suppose to be, but he had made one mistake. His friend who had loaned the ox to complete the team was a Tory. For this reason, the “mixed” team was no longer allowed on the road job. This is probably the only time in history when a man lost his job on account of his ox voting for the wrong party.
Politicking and patronage have been going on since the days of our first elected representatives.
My grandfather was given a job on a scow dredging around our local wharf when the Liberals were in power. This mud scow was made of two equal compartments and was towed to deep water by a lobster boat for unloading. My grandfather’s job was to take a heavy maul and hit the “knock-off” lever on his end of the scow at exactly the same time as the man on the other end was hitting his lever. This was to unload the mud and empty the scow.
My grandfather, a grade four philosopher, would have been much more suited for the job of the elected politician and making speeches. A scow man he was not. The worker on the other end gave the command “hit the lever” and did so. My grandfather was looking at his co-worker instead of looking at his target. He swung and missed the lever altogether and the maul flew out of his hands. With one end empty, the old scow began to sink. The other worker reached the release lever in time to save their honour, and perhaps, their lives.
In those days, the issues were pretty simple and straightforward. On Election Day, a small bottle of the good stuff or a few chocolate bars could help decide who you were voting for. The CCF party was too poor to afford such a luxury and, in the hungry 1930s, could only get one vote in our Acadian village.
These days, we have undecided voters, lots of them, usually people who, for whatever reason, have very little faith in any political party. Opinion pollsters will make up their minds for them. These opinion polls are conducted by telephone and the questions are worded in such a way that the one that pays the poll taker will usually get the answers they want…or so it seems. Thus the undecided, instead of studying the issues and going by their good judgment, will go with the flow and vote with the winning opinion poll…although opinion polls have been wrong, in many cases, lately.
Who will win this election? The one with the most votes, of course.