I’m a lifetime resident of the Cowichan Valley, and I’ll admit that I have shown little interest or awareness in the past regarding our local elections, but this year felt different.
This year felt as though there was a broader range of representation on the ballot sheet, and thus I found myself more engaged and interested in partaking in the process.
Unfortunately, what I discovered during this election was less then encouraging.
I saw regular people attacked for their beliefs and for the values they held, not only in the local media, but also by mayor Al Siebring and other running candidates, school board and municipal.
I understand that politics is a dirty game at times, but what I feel people in these positions of authority or influence forget is that the brave souls that decided to take it upon themselves to run a campaign also represent people within our community.
Their views are not unique to them, and when they are being called “wingnuts”, “anti-vaxxers”, “transphobic”, or “worthy of contempt”, what this does is makes anyone within the community that aligns with these candidates feel as though they are being discriminated against, shut down and shamed for having questions or views outside of the norm. When has this become OK?
I cannot tell you how many times I heard candidates mention the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in their speeches, but then turn around and spew false labels, condescending remarks and belittling comments towards their fellow citizens. It seems to me, as a member of the community, that these words only apply in theory and not in practice. Equity, inclusion and diversity are only practiced when it aligns with a certain view point, and with witnessing this throughout the whole election process, I have to say that I feel very disheartened and concerned with the present leadership within the Cowichan Valley, and just as mystified by the one sided and openly biased approach to journalism coming from our local media outlets.
It is distasteful and inappropriate for current, and potential, local leaders to conduct themselves in a way that many of them did in the past two months. I’m saddened to see that many of them were voted in, despite their attacks on regular folk.
How can we as a community move forward as a community if we are so divided and considered “the others” when we do not agree or go along with the majority?
How can we ever understand a point of view or a justified concern of another, if we never reach out for true dialogue or debate? How can we ever heal if cancel culture is the norm, bullying and name calling is to be expected and mob mentality is accepted? How?
It’s time to stop virtue signaling about the most current catastrophe, and instead start connecting at a human level with our community.