Guess who is now Steve’s new best friend? – Editorial

KATHERINE FORD/Guest Columnist

In this federal election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a target voter. Apparently, it’s me.

Who knew? Who knew he even cared?

He never writes, he never phones, he never sings Melancholy Baby — preferring The Beatles and their ilk for his public musical performances.

All joking aside, I am chuffed to think Stephen and his cohort — whom I like to call Harpies if only to emphasize their mad attack-dog House of Commons behaviour — have apparently chosen me to represent their target voter. Not me personally, but the faceless mass of the Canadian population I represent — female, a committed voter, and a senior citizen.

I represent the majority of votes in this country and, as the Baby Boomers begin to turn 65 this year, our voice should become even stronger and louder. According to Statistics Canada: “Seniors are more likely to vote at all levels of government than younger persons.”

As Janet Keeping, president of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership told the CBC: “It’s time politicians recognize the power of the concerned senior…They’re people with clout, they’re people with education and they vote, they vote, they vote.”

We won’t put up and shut up

Unlike previous generations — our parents and grandparents who fought in two world wars and lived through the Depression — today’s seniors aren’t likely to put up and shut up, grateful for whatever crumbs fall from the federal table.

Our level of deference for those who have won popularity contests — i.e. politicians — is not automatic, if it exists at all. That attitude comes in part from what StatsCan says is “one of the fundamental characteristics that will distinguish the next generation of seniors…its higher educational attainment.”

Our parents and their parents did not face their senior years with the social safety net that has been built up by my generation. We have lived in relative affluence and are not willing, nor should we be, to face the declining years of our lives in penury, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Worse, for politicians who believe platitudes suffice for programs, my generation of seniors is the first of the second-wave feminists to demand equitable treatment in our senior years. We are unlikely to endure the patronizing attitude of care-givers without putting up a chorus of disagreement and anger. Not for us the meek childishness that has been the lot of so many seniors in care.

No more nice little old ladies

What this means in terms of our voting is our reluctance to vote for politicians who treat us as an afterthought or as “nice, quiet, little old ladies.” So beware the Solange Denis effect. (She was the senior who, in 1985, confronted Prime Minister Brian Mulroney when he said his majority government would de-index the Canada Pension Plan. Do that, she said, and it’s “Goodbye, Charlie Brown.”)

The message was clear. The de-indexing plan was dropped.

Today, there are a lot more Solanges, senior women voters with education, brains, money and opinions who are not prepared to be quiet and vote for a father figure, even if it comes wearing a natty blue sweater.

We take our cues from the likes of mystery writer Henning Mankell, who wrote in The Fifth Woman: “It was only in the Western world that old people were viewed with indulgence or contemptuous sympathy. In other cultures, age was respected as the period of enlightened wisdom.”

Much of our comfort in retirement will be supplied by our own foreplanning — pensions, RRSPs, and investments. But we expect all levels of government to help us protect our good planning.

Health care is a prime concern for us. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that the majority of senior citizens had at least one chronic health condition, such as arthritis, and one-quarter of those have a chronic heart condition.

Keeping us healthy and out of the public hospitals should be on every politician’s agenda. Health care is delivered by the provinces, but overseen by the federal Canada Health Act.

What that translates to, in terms of vote, is a strong block in favour of more comprehensive heath care, enhanced pension, better home care and muscular, good looking toy boys available for odd jobs around the house. Okay, I made the last one up.

But if seniors hold the fate of the May 2 election, if Stephen Harper and the Conservatives really are courting the female seniors’ vote, I’m still waiting for the how to be revealed. I’m not holding my breath waiting for him to recognize my power over his future.

Troy Media

Just Posted

Ponoka council challenged on payments on new building

Resident continues worries the town is paying over $94,000 per month on something it may never own

Plan to pump into Gull Lake won’t happen in 2019

Two-stage filter process to be evaluated by Alberta Environment

Remember When: A photo of the 1903 Ponoka Presbyterian Church

The building would late become the sight of the Ponoka United Church

Ponoka County denies rezoning over road responsibility issue

Application to parcel off land shot down by council due mainly to lack of access

Ponoka County council pleased with fire services budget

2019 budget presented to council include some higher operational costs

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Alberta doctor accused of sexual assault asked to voluntarily give up practice

College says Dr. Barry Wollach should discontinue his practice, given the seriousness of the allegation against him

Huawei founder thanks inmates, Canadian justice system for treating daughter well

Ren Zhengfei said he believes there will be a just conclusion to the case of his daughter, Meng Wanzhou

May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would stay put in her leadership role

Red Deerians can weigh in on proposed Bighorn Country investment tonight

Telephone town hall takes place 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Defending champions Team Scheidegger will fight to keep title

Stettler hosting 2019 Alberta Scotties provincial women’s bonspiel

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

Reflections: Looking back a brave Ponoka soldier

Private Frederick Keith Miller is recognized in this week’s Ponoka News history column

Most Read