Democracies wither and die in the sterile soil of indifference, apathy, cynicism and their offspring, lack of participation. There is no better poster child to illustrate this than our current federal "majority" government. Just over 61 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in 2011. The tally for the Cons was 39.62 per cent. The "majority" government we're currently enjoying was elected by fewer than a quarter of all eligible voters.
There's very little I can do to nudge that number up in the next federal election.
But, as former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O'Neill quipped, "All politics is local." And locally, there is something I can do.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and while they're pretty good at sucking up dirt, they suck when it comes to politics. We currently have a vacuum in local politics and while I'm painfully aware it may lead readers to conclude I suck, I guess it just may be up to me to fill it.
As much as I admire our mayor and supported her in the last election, in order to save participatory democracy in Tiny Town, it appears I'm going to have to breathe life once again into the Campagne de Fous and throw my hat in the ring for mayor of Whistler. Yes, I, your humble scribe, will once again fire up the Never-Ending Party and hammer together a platform no one can deny, and no one can take seriously. You can thank me later.
Many of the planks I outlined in the CdeF platform three years ago still have currency. We're still killing bears instead of putting them to work for us as tourist attractions. We still haven't converted half the Whistler golf course into a trailer park to solve both our affordable housing needs and provide a quick, nine-hole course for time-challenged duffers. The list goes on.
And once again, I'll be funding my campaign with found money. No corporate or personal donations, please; I'll not be anyone's shill. Just so there is no misunderstanding about this rock-solid plank in my platform, I do not consider a free, refreshing drink along the campaign trail as a donation per se. Fair warning here, if you think four or five refreshing drinks will make me any more receptive to whatever it is you want me to do for you, you're dreaming; it'll just make me more obstreperous and ridiculous, an annoying but funny condition. But hey, go ahead and try, at least I'll have a good time.
Before I get into the meat of my exciting new platform, I'd like to take this early opportunity to get out in front of a breaking local issue. I can safely promise I will, under no conditions, take advantage of the RMOW's new "family-friendly" parental leave policy while I'm mayor. In the event my Wonderful Wife gives birth during my term of office I can promise you one of two things will happen. Either I will faithfully serve out my tenure as mayor, missing no more or fewer smoky backroom meetings than usual, or I will cash in on the whopping offer from Ripley's Believe It or Not and resign to a lead a life of indolence and luxury.
I can't, of course, speak for my opponent and I'm too sensitive to inquire whether she's planning any additions to her family. I would like to point out, however, she has had this to say about it. "I was the proponent of the family friendly policy and... I am very proud of the fact that we have passed this policy and are the first municipality in this country to do so.... I might even be a member of council as a grandparent."
I think that speaks for itself and I wish her all the best with her growing family.
Now, on to the new platform. The first exciting new plank in the 2014 Campagne de Fous platform is none other than independence. In the wake of Scotland's unsuccessful — or successful, depending on how you look at it — bid to become its own country, there is renewed interest in the subject. Much has been speculated about whether La Belle Province might take a third kick at the cat. The independentistas in Newfoundland have found renewed vigour. And if they can stop chain-smoking pot, the Cascadia proponents may come out of their stupor long enough to see if anyone cares about their silly, cross-border idea.
Well, I say let's beat 'em to it. Whistler should be its own country. OK, country may be too grandiose. But we could be our own principality, our own Resort Principality. Canada's answer to Monaco. Andorra. Liechtenstein.
With roughly $1.3 million tax bucks a day heading out of this town into the black holes of Victoria and Ottawa, why should Whistler be begging for RMI scraps, scraps that come with far too many strings attached and mostly get spent propping up aging Canadian rockers instead of propping up our aging infrastructure? Why are we inconveniencing residents and guests with nickel and dime pay parking when we generate enough money to offer them valet service if we simply kept it all? Why are we paying property tax when we could all be living on Easy Street?
And why go through all the nonsense and expense of a referendum? A vote for me will be considered a vote for independence. When I'm elected mayor, I'll unilaterally declare Whistler's independence and open diplomatic negotiations with all the countries in the world that send skiers here for holiday, or confused tourists here in the summer.
Now just so the people who live up and down valley and commute to work, not to mention all the people who use the Sea to Sky Highway to simply pass through town, don't get their knickers in a knot, the Resort Principality of Whistler will not be setting up border crossings north and south of town. Ours is a Principality of inclusion. We welcome everyone. Well, not the thugs from Surrey... but everyone else. We're not going to make them show their passports at our borders because we don't care where they're from as long as they're coming here to have fun, the raison d'être of the Never-Ending Party.
We'll operate, say, like a port city and require — let's say ask — everyone to report to Whistler Immigration & Information whenever they get around to it. We'll stamp their passport with a colourful, locally designed stamp, give them Official Whistler Welcome papers, suitable for framing or rolling, and send them on their way.
And while our form of nationhood will be a principality, we'll still elect the prince or princess and their Court of Councillors every three years. The remaining details? We'll work 'em out as we go, borrowing heavily from Monaco, Andorra and Liechtenstein, which are all tremendously prosperous principalities.
Take that B.C.! Take that, Canada!