This past week has been a whirlwind and honestly, it’s been the kind of thing that we’ve never experienced in our lifetimes. And really, we all know this is just the beginning of what’s to come. If there was ever a moment to listen to the experts and do our best to take care of the health of ourselves and our loved ones, this is surely it.
That’s the focus right now, even if that means that we are starting to shut down just about everything. I know that feels odd, and while everything can’t shut down in perfect synchronicity, it needs to happen. That being said, that hasn’t what has been happening completely across the board, as some things are still going on or haven’t been cancelled. I’ll admit it’s hard to decide how far out to look at cancelling or postponing things, but there are still some things I’ve seen out there in the political realm still going on that probably should be. So here are my two cents of free advice for people and organizations in the political space about what should probably happen to some normal political activity and behaviour:
- Postpone the Conservative Leadership Race: This might sound like a bit much given the fact that the convention for this race is supposed to happen in late June, but I would argue that’s precisely why it should be postponed. For starters, the Conservatives have time given that they pushed this convention forward to get it done early, rather than wait for the fall. So to move it back to the Fall now doesn’t seems like an over the top idea. Heck, none other than Alberta Premier Jason Kenney just cancelled school for the rest of the school year, which goes right up to that date, out of an abundance of caution. Surely it’s not too much to suggest this be pushed back. Plus, let’s face it, there is no way to safely run a campaign right now in this situation. Yes you can move lots of things online but I would argue that it’s a very bad look to be running for an elected position like this in a time like the one we’re in (I’ll have more to say on that in a bit). Finally, we’ve already seen different candidates call for either the postponing of the race, or the pushing back of deadlines. This race cannot responsibly continue as is and things will have to be pushed, so just do it now and push it right off until the Fall.
- Suspend the Green Leadership Race: See above for reasons, but this should be even more of a no-brainer for the Greens, whose convention is already in the Fall. Just suspend the race and review the convention and voting dates when necessary. Precious few people are paying attention to this race to begin with, so that won’t get any better in this environment. So yeah, just suspend the thing.
- Suspend Party Fundraising Activities: Doing fundraising work and getting the timing of it right is hard at the best of times, and these are far from that. I tried to keep that in mind on Thursday night. I was cuddled up with my scared 7-year-old daughter, trying to explain why her school was being closed & that we’re going to keep her safe in this pandemic, only to be interrupted by a phone call. I thought it might be my parents, but nope, it was the Federal NDP with a fundraising ask. Seriously, that actually happened, at 7 pm on that night, the same day a global pandemic was declared. Why those people were making those calls that night, I have no clue. But seriously, there was no good reason for that party or any other to be making fundraising calls then. The same goes for fundraising emails or any other activities across the board. Yes, this will be a hard time for parties financially, especially if you are running a convention of any kind that people are much less likely to attend now. But folks, that’s way down my list of concerns.
- Turn the Tone Right Off: It was this point that really drove home the need to postpone or suspend leadership races because as much as I believe those kinds of race can be important, they are probably the worst thing for calm, rational discussion. I point to the Tweets of Conservative candidate Erin O’Toole as maybe the worst example of this so far, as not only have many (not all) of them looked terrible in this serious moment, they raised serious questions about his ability to lead anything. So please take that example as a warning and tone everything right down. This is not the time for partisan attacks and that kind of crap and if that’s where your head is still at in this serious moment, that says a lot more about you than anything else. And further to that point….
- Just be Decent to One Another: It’s a sad commentary that I even need to say this, but when I’ve seen the attacks on Twitter towards journalist Althia Raj for pointing out an obviously positive thing or towards Conservative MP Dane Lloyd for having made a respectful and humane statement in the House of Commons in this moment. I get that some people can’t put their own crap aside and as I keep saying, partisanship is a hell of a drug, but Christ, in this moment, cut it out. Stop it. Enough! This is not the moment to dwell on whatever issues you’ve had in the past with people. I’ve had more than my fair share of moments where I’ve been quite disturbed by things that Mr. Lloyd has said and done in the House, but you know what, I can put that aside and applaud him for doing a good thing in that moment. He should be held up for that, not torn down for it. If we can’t do that in times like these, then we might never be able to and I refuse to believe that’s impossible. So please, just be good to one another.
That’s just some simple advice off the top of my head and I hope that it’s useful. We’re in hard times and in these moments we need to come together. We’ve done it in the past and I believe we can do it again in these. Let’s be our best selves and if we do that, we’ll get through this. Take care of each other out there.