Thursday, November 08, 2007

Saskatchewan Election - Postlude

Well, it’s over. The results were more or less as predicted: Saskatchewan Party 37, NDP 21, Liberals 0, Green 0. Popular vote: Liberals 8% (down), NDP 37% (down), Saskatchewan Party 51% (way up). Although the Sask Party won a few urban seats, the rural/urban, Conservative/Social Democrat ideological split is relatively intact.

We woke up this morning to an inch or two of snow. Harbinger?

Agnes and I manned the hospital poll where we accommodated three voters and sat restlessly for four hours. I read a chapter in Stephen Lewis’s Race Against Time (The Massey Lectures of 2005), poked around in the recesses of the hospital to see what goes on in the kitchen, the labour room, the recovery rooms, the physical therapy unit, etc., drank hospital coffee and kibitzed with the nurses and doctors.

An elderly gentleman from Beardy’s-Okemasis Reserve was wheeled into our voting area by a nurse and we accommodated him as best we could. I took his declaration and gave him a ballot, showing him the space where he was to write in the name of either the party for whom he would like to vote, or the name of the candidate. He said, “I vote NDP,” and at that point, I gave up all pretense of secrecy, gave him a pencil and an open ballot on the table and in a very shaky hand, he put down what approximated the three letters well enough to be read.

We took the poll to a room where a just-admitted sweet old lady wanted to exercise her franchise and was surprised when the nurse told her she didn’t even have to sit up to vote. After voting she said, “Thank you, this was fun. I didn’t know voting could be this easy!”

In Rosthern-Shellbrook constituency, a lot of the right people would have to stay home for the sense of urgency in voting to return. The Conservative (Sask Party) candidate won by a hefty majority. In Martensville Constituency to the south of us, Nancy Heppner had 80% of the popular vote the last time I checked last night. The three hospital votes we garnered did something for the voters, possibly. They did nothing for the results, I expect.

Our premier elect is of Mennonite Brethren background, I’m told. A camera and microphone followed him as he plowed through the jubilant crowd at his victory celebration and I overheard an exchange in Low German: “Na Brad, wo jeet et?” Answer: “Gout. Nu ha wie Licht von Boven!” (“How’s it going, Brad,” Answer: “Great, now we have light from above.”) Light from above. In his speech, Brad Wall kept repeating the phrase, “Hope beats Fear,” The audience was chanting it with him at the end. I’m sure that poignant phrase will go down in history alongside “I have a dream . . .” and “Ask not what your country can do for you. . . .” But I shouldn’t descend into sarcasm; that genre is best employed before the election but after the same, sounds like sour grapes.

But my grapes are a bit sour this morning. Lorne Calvert was very gracious in losing, almost jubilant in fact, and I sensed that he was relieved that he was going to get a break from being blamed for every civil servant who goes astray, every pothole on every road and every venture that turned out to be less than hoped for. If you must lose, losing an election is not the worst scenario. Office carries a burden; I think it was Allan Blakeney who said that governing is an uphill climb, and every year in office adds another stone to the backpack. I think the NDP are going to relish a few years of their opponents taking it on the chin for a change.

Anyway, life goes on. This morning, I will spend half an hour cleaning bathrooms, etc in the library, I’ll go for coffee with my cronies and try to be polite when the election comes up, prepare for an evening meeting of the Rosthern Writers Group where we’ll discuss a great short essay by another member and a novel chapter of mine.

I’ll have to watch out at the corners today; riding a bike can be hazardous on ice and snow.

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