I have never met my member of Parliament. I recognize his face and his name, see that he has an article regularly in the Ponoka News, know where he has his constituency office — actually a mere two blocks from my home — have seen him in Ponoka parades with his family, but have never had any clear reason to visit or meet with him.
When I realize that he and his government have a proposed budget this year of $280 billion, on a par with many large-scale global corporations, and that he along with his parliamentary colleagues have the responsibility for large swathes of issues that affect Canadians and Canada’s physical environment (in perhaps the second largest country in the world) the perspective of what parliamentarians do or could do becomes quite impressive.
And the question arises again. Why, given what my member of Parliament does or could do, have I actually not made a point of meeting him in the years that he’s been in office? When I think of this I realize there are indeed things to talk about. Nothing dramatically urgent though, as far as I’m concerned, but enough to spend a while over a cup of coffee. With some conversations though, especially an introductory one between strangers, only so much can be said. Important issues though that can be acted on, cannot be left in thin air after a 15-minute talk over coffee.
If after the election, for instance, my pressing issue has not really been acted on, what kind of conversation will I have with my member of Parliament then? If he is serious, my member of Parliament will give me his perspective honestly, detailing what has happened, suggesting options, hopefully having ongoing conversations. I guess I need to figure out how to connect with my prospective MP in some kind of ongoing, productive and meaningful way.
Exercising my democratic rights is not merely to vote in an election but to have an ongoing conversation with him. But it’s making that first effort at a conversation that seems difficult. It’s not really about apathy as I see it. It’s more about consciously making a plan to talk and also to listen; to talk about what’s important in our lives and making a point of doing something about it.