EDITORIAL: Local election issues

The country is embarking on the longest federal election campaign in more than 100 years.

The country is embarking on the longest federal election campaign in more than 100 years.

And away we go.

Federal elections traditionally attract the highest voter turnout of all our trips to the polls. In 2011, 61 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots. During the provincial election of 2013, voter turnout was 52 per cent and during last year’s municipal votes, it ranged in this area from 13 per cent (Errington/Coombs) to 35 per cent (Parksville) to 60 per cent (Qualicum Beach).

It’s safe to say voters are much more in touch with local and provincial politics and issues than they are federal responsibilities, so these are curious stats to say the least.

As it happens to any government in power for more than a couple of terms, the Conservatives are facing a storm that carries the winds of change, i.e., people often want change for the sake of change.

Voters should ask themselves if their quality of life has diminished in the past 10 years and if the answer is yes, is that attributable in any specific, direct way to actions of the federal government.

Then again, perhaps federal politics isn’t that personal. It seems odd that voter turnout is highest for an election that puts people in a House of Commons which has less to do with our day-to-day lives than those who govern us from Victoria or Jensen Avenue or Hammond Bay Road, but such is the case.

So, are federal elections more about the big picture? Are they more about what we are doing in the Ukraine or Indonesia than what we are doing in Nanoose Bay? Perhaps.

As we have with elections in the past two years, we will focus our coverage on issues. And we will sharpen our focus to issues we believe have a more local effect. Yes, we understand this nation’s foreign policy direction is an important factor in any federal election, but we will make no apologies for being parochial.

There are about 600 people who work in the shellfish industry in and around Parksville Qualicum Beach. There are issues related to the coast guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that should get our attention. Should B.C. Ferries — at least the Mainland-to-Vancouver Island routes — be treated as an extension of the Trans Canada Highway system and get more federal money? We hope the candidates running for the Courtenay-Alberni seat in the House of Commons will be prepared to discuss these issues.

— Editorial by John Harding