We get the politicians we deserve

Commentary by Larry Coté

At some point in the past politics was considered a venerable profession and attracted mostly honourable persons to the practice. Undoubtedly, there were instances of skulldrudgery on the hustings and in the ranks. It is not counter-intuitive to think that the electorate could err in its collective judgment and vote in a party or person that turned out to be akin to square peg in a round hole.

As history reveals, the collective wisdom eventually wises up to its errors and often corrects misdeeds in the next political cycle. On occasion elected persons have been ousted even before their term had run its usual length.

Unquestionably there have been and are many honourable politicians who have distinguished themselves and are always above reproach. The majority one might idealize.

However, if recently reported public reactions are any indication there seems to be a near seismic shift in how politics and politicians are perceived by a growing number of people. These negative perceptions appear to be on an upward trend and result in the continual decline in voter participation and turnout. Alarmingly, this apathy is most prevalent among younger voters.

It appears those who have tuned-out or turned away from the traditional parties, candidates and politics have disparaged the process and thrown in the towel. If this be so, this can be a serious threat to the foundations of democracy. One danger of lowered participation rates is that the process can be hijacked by unrepresentative individuals, groups or otherwise devious types that do not have the welfare of the majority in mind if they were to take the reins of power.

Certain political analysts in their efforts to explain the mindset of the electorate suggest that some recent election outcomes indicate they are ‘fed up’ with the so called ‘status quo.’ These discontents postulate there are too many disgusting incidences of noxious behaviors, unwarranted entitlements and glaring deficiencies in the ways of governing and the practices of some politicians. Further, they contend that these defamed incumbents may be too long in the tooth. Critics observe the age of many politicians to be much beyond the average age of the population they purport to represent. There is a popularized notion that the first priority of too many politicians is to get re-elected. The antithesis of change.

And so now comes the crucial question. How to resuscitate the tarnished images of politicians and the besmirched practices of politics to honourable and respectable levels? An equally important question is who is going to initiate and lead such a challenging but worthwhile effort?

One such answer is in-your-face simple and doesn’t require a revolution. It is you. You have proven time and again the truth of that proscription. You need overcome your apathy (maybe while holding your nose) and re-engage with the democratic process. You might opt to choose a party that best aligns with your convictions and then do what is needed to return politics to where it belongs — by the people and for the people.

The suitability of politicians and the health of democracy relies on you doing just that. After all is said and done, you get what you deserve.



Don’t give up on E.W. Farr fight

Are the concerns of the people of west Pelham being heard by the District School Board of Niagara?

Should the Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter, be asked to intervene?

E.W. Farr, the school, has been part of the history of west Pelham for some 58 years, named in memory of a man who influenced children and education throughout the Niagara Peninsula for decades.

My husband and I attended E.W. Farr; our children and our grandchildren also attended. I would like to think that our great-grandchildren someday could have the same opportunity.

The legacy of E.W. Farr and how he inspired students to make a difference in their community should be something a school should teach students about and be proud of. I know my children and my grandchildren are proud. It’s not too late to make the change. Don’t give up!

Sharon Farion, Pelham

Pelham Cares thanks community

The generosity of the Pelham Community never ceases to amaze us! From holding events and providing donations, to volunteering, it is never more evident than during the Holiday Season!

A highlight of our year, the recent 26th annual Pelham Community Food Drive was again a resounding success!

With over 300 volunteers donating their time, the event was organized, donations were collected, date checked, sorted, and transported to our facility on Hwy 20.

Following the retirement of Gerry Berkhout and his family, Pelham Cares and community partners assumed responsibility for the door-to-door collection, in addition to the sorting operation.

Special mention goes out to Fonthill and District Kinsmen, Fonthill Lions Club and Fenwick Lions Club, who have been working with us since September, to ensure the event would run smoothly.

Staff from the Town of Pelham ensured we had updated maps. Various social clubs provided financial support for the advertising. The response to our call for volunteers was truly overwhelming, with many long time Pelham Cares volunteers, hockey teams, basketball teams, families, and students from local high schools and Brock University coming together to make it happen!

Other holiday traditions included the OPP Auxiliary food drive, the seasonal food drive at Sobeys Fonthill, and the 27th annual Fonthill Volunteer Fire Association toy drive. The many toys and gifts collected were distributed to our client families, as part of our Holiday Hampers.

Again this year, Pelham Cares received a number of grants which have supported our programs and services. An impressive number of community events held throughout 2016 by individuals, business, schools, and churches have resulted in food and/or monetary donations. And, our local media provided their support through attending events, and graciously including many articles in their publications.

The food collected through all these efforts provided for families and individuals in need in 2016, through the holiday season, and will be distributed into the spring and summer of 2017. Monetary donations received will assist us in subsidizing food donations, and continuing our Youth Sponsorship and Transportation Programs.

As we bring another year to a close, a special mention goes out to our many dedicated volunteers, from providing direction to our organization, maintaining our facility, representing us at community events, sorting food, transporting food, shopping, driving, etc., we could not do it without all of them!

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Pelham Cares, staff, volunteers and clients; a heartfelt thank you goes out to the Pelham community for your support again this year! Too numerous to mention individually…including the schools, churches, service groups, youth groups, media, businesses and individuals…..once again your generosity will go far to help families in need in this wonderful community of Pelham!

Tracy Holmwood, President Board of Directors, Pelham Cares