Editorial

Candidly speaking…

Dianne St. Jean
Candidly speaking…
Do you know where the word “candidate” comes from? According to a number of references, in ancient Rome, when someone was campaigning for public office, they wore a toga that had been whitened with chalk as they greeted voters. The Latin word “candidatus” eventually came to mean “wearing white”.
Likewise the word “candidate” also came to not only mean white, but was later extended to mean – wait for it – pure. Let’s leave that thought aside for a bit and come back to reality.
We recently survived the big American election media invasion (although the squawking and squabbling continue), but don’t get too complacent because we’re not done yet, at least in our part of the world.
Still to come for us this year are political races on a national, provincial and municipal level.
The spitting and sparring for leadership in the Conservative Party is well underway, and it’s starting to look a lot like a mini version of the recent American election, with people beginning to compare Kevin O’Leary to Donald Trump (this can be bad or good, depending on which side of the fence you’re on). The comparison stems from the fact that O’Leary is a businessman and television and radio personality. He owns an investment fund company, O’Leary Fine Wines, and has written books about finances. He is known for his blunt and straightforward manner. He also says he can afford to finance his own campaign. He is said to be the only one who can beat Justin Trudeau. So, he appears to be a shoe-in for those who want the Conservatives in. If Trump defeated Clinton, O’Leary can beat Trudeau.
Yet those who are starry-eyed about his star-quality also need to get their eyes off the so-called comparisons and really listen to what he’s saying. O’Leary doesn’t deceive anyone, he’s very honest, and what he has been heard to say is that he loves money more than anything and that it’s the only thing that matters. He is quoted in “Toronto Life” as saying, “I don't give a damn about the party.” My guess, and it’s just a guess because I don’t live in his head, is that he’s betting on riding the recent tidal-wave trend of unorthodox personality popularity to get himself elected.
While in the ideal world we would all like to be told the truth and treated with respect, election times snap us back to a harsh reality. More often than not politics get dirty and candidates are not so “pure”. They often say what they think the voters want to hear, and even when they do bluntly speak their mind, the appeal of that type of strong personality can become like chalk on a toga. That’s all you see or want to see.
In that respect then, is it the candidates who are to blame as we are faced with the sickening realization that the person we voted for turns out to be a disaster (just ask the opinion of the majority of Albertans how they feel about Rachel Notley now – but that’s another topic)? Or does the responsibility lie with us, the voter?
The people walking into the Forum in the days of Rome undoubtedly knew the togas were whitened, perhaps even noticed the evidence of fine white dust on the floor under their feet. Yet, I wonder what they chose to pay attention to.
As we head to the polls, whether to choose who will govern our country, province or municipality, remember, it’s up to us to pay attention to the substance and not the image.