Noisy louts and a quiet hero
Sometime in the early hours of Sunday morning, a vehicle was seen taking out political candidate signs in Porter Creek.
I had no idea about the extent of the damage until I saw the results in the light of day — virtually every large sign, including a few small ones on private property, had been smashed or pushed down various embankments.
In some cases, the destruction was accompanied by broken beer bottles and other glass on the roadway.
The ‘vehicle’ was apparently apolitical — no candidate in the riding was spared.
My first reaction was one of anger — all that time and money wasted, two things very precious and often extremely scarce in a campaign.
Standing amidst the wreckage, I found myself asking why would someone do this?
Liquor must certainly have contributed, but I have to wonder if more was at work.
Is this the regard in which we hold our political institutions or was I simply over-reacting to a random act of stupidity?
Yet, it caused me to consider why I was in this campaign. Was it really worth it? Do we get the government we deserve?
I’d like to believe that every one of us who chooses to run for political office comes to this for different reasons, but we presumably share one thing in common.
We put our names to the electorate because we believe that this fundamental service to the community is a noble thing — despite the many mistakes, shortcomings and expediencies that cause us, wrongly I believe, to think less of our politicians.
And we also put our names forward because we have a vision as to how we can make our community that much better, regardless of our circumstances.
But again, that morning, none of these sentiments seemed to measure up against the broken wood at my feet.
I decided to park my frustration and get on with the business at hand — meeting the people that I intend to serve as their MLA.
My campaign manager, who also shared my initial reaction, accompanied me. We talked to a few people who kindly gave us their time, but we realized that we were still carrying the events of the past night.
It seemed to intrude despite our efforts to the contrary.
Then, we knocked on the door of a particular house. A young man answered, excusing his wet hands because he’d been doing the dishes.
He politely took our campaign information, but said he couldn’t vote since he was up from Alberta visiting his parents.
I asked what he did for a living.
He seemed a bit reticent, but said he was in the army.
I told him that I had also spent 22 years in the military and then asked him where he had served.
After a long pause, he said, very quietly, that he just got back from Afghanistan.
In that second, looking at each other, I knew why I was at his doorstep and why I would carry on to the next.
May the person or persons who engaged in their small act early Sunday morning someday understand that their indulgence was possible because of this young man, the generations who came before him, and, as I write this letter, those still in harm’s way.
That evening, we rebuilt the signs. If it happens again, we’ll simply rebuild once more.
David Laxton, Liberal candidate for Porter Creek Centre