The incredibly significant thing, about the recent Comox Valley municipal elections is that, clearly, the Right (big money, cut services, cut taxes to business at the expense of residents, pave the Valley, serve business interests above all else) really wanted to own municipal politics and were willing to organize money and effort to do so while the Left (focus on a just, compassionate, sustaining and sustainable community, serve residents and foster business as a part a sustainable community) kind of hoped that individuals sharing their values might do sort of well.
Surprise! The Right wins.
Courtenay narrowly elected a mayor known for right-wing views and being the only politician in the Comox Valley to vote against even having a study into what we might do about homelessness. Along with the mayor, most of the slate of right-wing candidates was elected, including a former mayor whose hallmark was a belligerent attack on neighbouring communities and an indifference to public input.
Clearly the Right was incensed by the idea of a homeless shelter in downtown Courtenay and the investment of tax dollars in revitalizing the Lewis Centre. They are energized by the idea of cutting services to the bone.
Their energy and anger was so great they collected — yet to be disclosed — thousands of dollars for a call centre to identify and get out all their potential votes, full-page colour ads, radio advertising in public support of their slate.
On the Left there was no unity. Each person was on their own. There was no call centre, no slate to rationalize advertising costs, no well-thought core messages to voters, no advertising of community values, no assistance to candidates sharing left-wing/progressive values or common theme advertising.
There was no sense of a common cause. Those who care about a compassionate and sustainable community thought it was enough to put up answers to questions by all candidates on a website — as if people would diligently search out the best possible candidate to vote for when 90 per cent of voters these days vote on a hunch about who represents their interests and the other thing is they vote for is whoever has the most and the most flashy ads!
Most importantly, I hope that we on the Left will rethink our commitment to our core values of caring for our communities, for the most vulnerable, of our commitment — no, not just commitment, our sacred obligation — to passing on to our children a world that is as alive, healthy and full of opportunity for a full life as the one we inherited.
Surely we can get as passionate about this as the Right does about consuming our earth and worshipping piles of money.
Editor’s note: Norm Reynolds ran unsuccessfully for Courtenay council.