My point is, I have always taken for granted that it is my right, as a Canadian citizen, to have this open and casual access to the women and men who lead our country. In a pluralistic democracy like ours, it has always been an expectation that legitimate disagreement, respectful dissent, and open debate made us stronger as a nation.
So what has happened to us? We have a Prime Minister who won't let you in the room without an invitation and a security screening; a leader of the opposition who restricts press access and plays fast and loose with the prospect of open debates on policy without prior approval of the participant list; a former PMO Chief of Staff who was more concerned with constructing a "scenario" about a miscreant Senator than letting the truth get out; and, a professional media whose idea of covering a campaign is more about "counting coups" among the candidates, than it is about informing the voting public about details of policies and proposals.
Many pundits have complained about the ten long weeks of campaigning that we have ahead of us. But I am not one of the complainers, because these days election campaigns are the one time that our politicians are required to come out of their protective cocoons and interact with the people who put them there and depend on their insight, dedication, and integrity to take our country forward.
My plea, to politicians of all stripes: Please take this opportunity to genuinely reach out and engage with your fellow citizens. Don't work to suppress voter participation, strive to enhance it! I wrote an wistful tweet this spring encouraging Albertans to equal the voter participation levels of Prince Edward Islanders. It was retweeted thousands of times - people want to know that their votes make a difference, but they can't if you don't use them.
I am hereby declaring a national contest to see which constituency can encourage the highest level of voter turnout. The prize? A truly representative House of Commons!