About 20 years ago, before my family moved to PEI, I remember meeting a man at a strawberry social, and we got talking about politics. He was the first person to tell me that there wasn’t much difference between the Liberals and Conservatives on the Island, and that all governments on PEI tended to be more left-leaning than in other jurisdictions because we care about the well-being of our neighbour, and we like to take care of each other. I found out many years later, that this gentleman was Wes MacAleer, though I had no idea who he was the first time we met.

The Island is a special place, for lots of reasons. One of them is that to a greater extent than most other places, we take care of each other. Whether it be a call to repair a neighbour’s roof, or at a time of tragedy, or medical crisis, Islanders are legendary for stepping forward and helping out. I suspect that this urge to assist runs deep, and goes back many generations to an age when neighbours instinctively came together in communal efforts. It’s almost as if in those days when crops were reaped and soil turned over communally, it wasn’t just the land which was being tended co-operatively, but that Islanders were ploughing back into the community, the spirit of shared love and care which sustains close-knit rural places.

We still get dewy-eyed over stories of selfless acts, and the willingness to come together to contribute to the common good. Of all the definitions of government, I prefer the one that says that governance is the process of optimizing the common good: of using our collective resources to take the best care that we can of everyone in the wider community.

But there is a disconnect here. When did any of us get teary at something government did? Mostly we are disillusioned, angry or worse: certainly not filled with nostalgia and warmth. Yet, our government, when working as I (and many others) believe it can, should provoke the same emotions we feel when we read about neighbours helping neighbours. Instead most often we equate government with corruption, lies, manipulation and deceit. It doesn’t have to be that way. So this Holiday Season, as a wave of new immigrants arrive in our community, let’s use their advent as a stimulus to reinvent government, to do better, and to come together through politics as a sharing, caring community.

-Peter

 

4 Comments

  1. billofaelan 24 December 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Years ago, long before I understood how government worked, I too had great ideals and thought that government could, should, and would do for the people the things people could not do for themselves. I too believed that change could come from within. I no longer feel that way. Government does not work in its current form. I do not feel represented by any stretch of the imagination, and many of my fellow Islanders feel the same way. We are disillusioned by government. We are offended by government but we have no recourse. The ballot box is a charade. The electoral districts are a joke. Aside from being able to continue to print checks to keep our welfare state going (with the most monies going to the wrong people). So tell me Mr Baker, when are you going to challenge Old Wadey Boy?

     
  2. Bob Butler 24 December 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Compassion and empathy for our fellow man and all the plights that befall us, illustrates the very best that man can be. The role of government has to include a recognition of the need for actions that recognize and alleviate the suffering of the ‘ less fortunate’, most especially those for whom our caring and actions can lift from misery into happy productive citizenship.

     
    • Government requires people with integrity 8 January 2016 at 9:39 pm

      Re: “The role of government has to include a recognition of the need for actions that recognize and alleviate the suffering of the ‘ less fortunate’, most especially those for whom our caring and actions can lift from misery into happy productive citizenship”.

      My experience of the role of government and others includes actions taken by those in power (Liberals) to instigate the suffering of my family, causing extreme poverty and marginalizing me in my pursuit of justice. They demeaned me by conspiring against me; lying, perjuring themselves, committing forgery and fraud during legal proceedings. There was no caring involved, no lifting from misery and certainly there evolved no happy productive citizenship. Though I have no financial security left, I have a desire to right the terrible wrongs and to do the best I can for others who risk being annihilated by the PEI mafia.

       
  3. Brenda Benoit(Littlejohn) 28 December 2015 at 10:04 am

    Peter. We miss you in Brockville, Ontario. Lucky PEI!

     

Leave a Reply