Saturday, October 31, 2009

Politics In A Small Town

It is municipal election time in Salluit, the time we get a (hopefully) new mayor and 6-member council to suffer under for the next three years.

Now in southern climes, the indicators of a municipal election are lawn signs, pamphlets stuffed through the letter box, an occasional knock on the door from a candidate's representative or the candidate him/herself. Television interviews, radio call-in shows, public debates and numerous polls are other means to whip up some whooplah and encourage an otherwise disinterested electorate to drag themselves into the polling station.

But in Salluit, NO. None of the standard means of involving the public in policy-forming debate is used, EVAR. Instead, we are forced to witness the same old podunck political practices of misdirection, backstabbing and utter cynicism.

Here are some examples.

Fresh off the ship, a brand spanking new road sander has been driving all over town, a symbol of the current administration's newfound commitment to public service. So much sand has been put down on the streets that I saw camel footprints going up the hill towards the airport. At this rate, by the time the election comes next week I expect to see palms and oases dotting the roadside - but then, this would be entirely consistent with Salluit's mirage-like quality.

There will probably be an open mike at the local FM station, with candidates limited to 10 minutes, though few of them have enough hot air (or ideas) to last that long. I predict we will hear the same old crap - preservation of language, beluga whale quotas, a heated swimming pool, and a seal in every pot. No one will propose policy that the town is sinking as our permafrost is melting away, that our region has the highest rate of suicide in the world, child neglect is rampant, alcohol and drug abuse is rife, and so on. It's just an exercise in burying the village's collective head in the snow drift and ignoring the serious problems we face.

Basic municipal services have been deplorable this year. I was unable to flush my toilet, wash dishes or take a shower for days on end since the regular complement of 3 sewage trucks went down to one due to mechanical breakdowns. And when you share your house with another adult and five teens, this situation fast became dire. Long-time readers of this blog are familiar with my frequent wailings about the lack of water or the surplus of sewage in my house.

Guess what? In honour of the election, extra truck drivers were hired a couple of weeks back to work weekends and to fill in for those too hungover to drive. Now I get sewage pickup and water delivery daily, sometimes many times a day. For sure, the day after the election they'll all be laid off and we'll be back up to our eyeballs in shit.

I vote in an early poll tomorrow since I am heading out of town this week. I really wonder if it is worth my while showing up.

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