COLUMN: Paint fumes stir thoughts of electoral reform

If Family Day is set aside for spending time with family members, then I’ve just acquired two new relatives: a ladder and a paintbrush.

On the Other Hand by Mark Rushton

If Family Day is set aside for spending time with family members, then I’ve just acquired two new relatives: a ladder and a paintbrush.

Thanks to the weatherman, the forecast was for a wet long weekend, thus inspiring the spring cleaner in my house to suggest I begin the refurbishment of our pantry. Saturday was consumed with removing the enormous accumulation of non-perishable food along with assorted detritus, much of which I’m certain will never be returned to its former shelves.

Once decluttered, the orders were to remove the shelves and “get rid of all that MacTac” installed a generation ago to “pretty them up.”

If you think being perched on the ladder, inhaling heady paint fumes in an enclosed space for hours on end, is mind-numbing, just wait until you try getting rid of the glue that once held down the MacTac!

I think the citrus-based emollient in Goo Gone has permanently etched its scent in my nasal passages. I can only imagine what I’m going to feel like when I eliminate that residue with denatured alcohol.

One thing about mundane and repetitive tasks is that they allow your mind to wander to other things, and in my case other things often revolve around politics.

In fact, with a federal election on the horizon a great many people across the land are scurrying about in preparation for the prime minister’s dropping of the writ. Candidate nomination meetings are being held, or will soon be held, to determine who represents each party in the election.

A reasonable and equitable process, except it is severely flawed, both provincially and federally.

Winning a nomination isn’t about the person who best represents a constituency, or who is the best speaker or hardest working person. It is all about “selling” memberships in the party of choice. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, except the criteria for membership in a party is neither equitable nor valid, since virtually all political parties require for membership only that a person be 14 or more years old and a permanent resident of Canada.

In many cases, that means the people nominating someone to represent you can’t even vote in the election, since to exercise that right you have to be at least 18 years old and be a fully qualified citizen of Canada.

And that is wrong.

If you can’t vote in an election, can barely speak or read either of our national languages or are essentially a child, you should not be allowed to participate and vote in the nomination process to select a candidate.

I can understand why political parties (and wanna-be politicians) indulge in what I consider unfair practice – it is easy to amass bulk membership sign-ups, guaranteeing a win and probably electoral success in strongly held ridings.

There is always grand talk of electoral reform among politicians, yet rarely does one have the courage to tackle and change the candidate nomination process. I’m sure the argument is that everyone should have the opportunity for representation.

If this is interpreted as fair, then everyone should be entitled to vote regardless of age or citizenship. If not, then only those who are on the voters’ list, or are eligible to be, should be involved in the process, from nomination to election ballot box.

markrushton@abbynews.com