Friday, 9 October 2015

The Election Sign

The past few days have been windy and candidate signs are being blown down.  Given our location (we are right on a busy highway at the entry point of the township) we have the opportunity to catch the attention of many if not most of the township's population.

In rural communities - sometimes well off the beaten path - you find houses with hand-painted signs posted on front lawns.  This past summer I passed a house on a back road covered with such signs, all deploring the Ontario sex ed curriculum....a patchworked lament about how it is destroying a generation, etc.

Our sign is simple:

I'm sure many would agree that this has been a nauseating election race, with a few bright spots - there have been many clear-headed insights and stances amidst the sleazy tactics, such as the many voices reminding the voting public that there are more pressing issues than the niqab's place in citizenship ceremonies.

There are, of course, plenty of issues that are being largely ignored.  Health care policies, aboriginal issues and food.

There was a candidate's meeting in Kingston last week on the issue of food security, and it was my chance to see what those running in my riding were like.  In rural ridings like mine, the candidates are not always suave.  One was a bit wooden in his delivery, and mostly reverted to platitudes, one read directly from the party manual in a monotone, one was more seasoned and charismatic, and fairly articulate, one didn't show up (I'm sure I don't need to say which party was the no-show).  The riding will most likely go to the latter candidate.

After the opening remarks and a couple of questions, I had to get up and stretch.  I stepped out of the room, and then stood in the back when I came in.  I wandered over to the banquet tables, where coffee and muffins were set out, and got a drink.  I gazed around the room, picking out the candidates' handlers, mostly in suits (mostly sharper looking than the candidates themselves).

It seemed that the questions all bled together and the responses suggested that there were no bright ideas on how to get more out of our own country's capacity to grow good food and make it available to more people.

This makes people like me second guess my hope for a better food system.  No matter what evidence there is to suggest that big changes in agriculture are necessary to environmental sustainability and the welfare to farmers (consider the idea that currently, crop farmers work off-farm to make up for the losses in their farming venture - essentially subsidizing the large seed and pesticide companies they buy from regardless of their own profitability) no politician with serious prospects of being elected would support anything much outside of the status quo.

These issues well up over time as they are neglected.  Health care becomes less sustainable and slowly sinks into crisis as the population ages.  Aboriginal communities become more alienated from government and less able to trust them.  Food eventually becomes inedible in spite of its abundance.  Farming, already unsustainable for the farmer, becomes phased out as new generations are less willing to swallow the bitter reality of working two jobs for the income of one.  This is where I am reminded of the fact that, although Canadian politics still rolls its eyes at my farm and calls what I do a quaint hobby, its general tenets are really the inevitable direction of food production (small-scale, local and not reliant on large, powerful, litigious companies patenting seed) and something that will continue to take hold and evolve as politicians strategize over their latest niquab issue.