ome October the good folks in Kluane riding will face a serious challenge: find some ray of hope amongst a slate of less than stellar candidates.
Here are the choices:
You can chose between Liberal Gary McRobb who is running without going through the nomination process; Conservative Jim Bowers who is without any political experience; NPD Lil Grubach-Hambrook who is without a residence in the riding, or Independent Freddy Hutter who is without a hope in hell.
At some level none of these candidates should be taken seriously.
They all lack a clear understanding of what it means to represent common folks in a complex process.
McRobb seems to believe that party, platform and substance make little difference. Name recognition, in his mind, is what counts.
His political future is tied to the imprudent notion that local folks are not smart enough to grasp the fact that each political party in the Yukon holds different values and adheres to different principles.
Each will undoubtedly forge a different Yukon.
McRobb firmly believes he can make a difference to his voters if only he can be elected from a party that forms the next government.
He has sat as a critic long enough. Give him the reins and rest assured — so he wants us to believe — he will perform.
But evenhanded representation of a riding does not necessarily hinge on a candidate’s party forming the next government.
All politics is nothing more — or less — than attentive compromise.
What ever happened to plainspoken statesmanship garnished with a hint of persuasion, delivered at the behest of a constituency?
Are we common folks to believe that if our candidate has to sit as a critic, democracy crawls to a full stop, economies stagnate, and mountains crumble?
Now Jim Bowers on the other hand is new to the game. We cannot yet accuse him of having a poor track record or unyielding ideology.
A vote for Bowers is truly a leap of faith.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, just not something timid folks normally feel good about.
Grubach-Hambrook provides us with yet another reason to be nervous.
Her candidacy must be read as a warning sign that in the rough and tumble world of local politics being local means little.
To her, being rooted, living in place over time, must be either only marginally important, or something that can be overcome by someone who has a long history as a practising politician.
Her candidacy ignores the fact that the practical and grassroots process of living in your riding is the ultimate test of character.
She evidently puts little value on the whole notion that story — and politics — are grounded, shaped and better understood within the context of a particular place.
She has no place-based history here in this riding. If elected she will likely miss the careful and important nuances that fashion the history of those who do live here.
Politics, for the most part, turn on the “soft” feelings of people who live and work in particular places.
And political speech should mimic the voices of those ordinary folks who say little but count dearly.
The policies arising from the practice of politics are a government’s response to this often nearly inaudible choir of local voices.
Without tenure on the part of our politicians, policy will likely be arbitrary, capricious and ill-founded. As such it is unlikely they will serve people or place well.
What then is a voter to do when faced with such an uninspiring assemblage of candidates?
First of all, one should rule out anyone who is not serious about representing his party in this election.
Hutter is a goner on this score.
His views are divisive, hurtful and isolationists. There is nothing “independent” in the views he has expressed in public or in print. They are in fact uniformly “dependent.”
Dependent, that is, on voters willing to somehow find merit in oppression and optimism in malice.
Also, if you feel, as I do, that serious attachment to place is prerequisite to political ambition, Grubach-Hambrook can be written off.
This is a tough one for me.
Much of what we currently know about the platform of the New Democratic Party would greatly benefit Kluane country.
But at the end of the day, a handed-down history intimately drawn from living here must mean something. For if it does not then the authentic value of local democracy evaporates.
That leaves us walking a line between McRobb and Bowers.
McRobb is betting on the Liberals forming the next government. He has all but admitted he is ineffective and despondent as critic.
In his last two stints in the legislature he has demonstrated an inability to compromise as a way of serving this riding.
That being said, if your crystal ball tells you the next government will be Liberal, McRobb’s your man.
On the other hand, if you are neither a gambler or a mystic there are better choices. If after 10 years, your dog still won’t fetch, it may be time to visit the animal shelter.
With McRobb, Grubach-Hambrook and Hutter out of the mix, where does that leave us?
Could I — someone always to the left of left — endorse Jim Bowers?
Take a deep breath now. Steady as she goes, my friends.
There is another alternative, a long shot albeit.
A miracle in Kluane country: Piers McDonald buys a home in Haines Junction.