Elections won, lost by whose story we buy: Phannenhour

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(Photo: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)

BY DANIEL PHANNENHOUR

To end our very long election campaign, all parties and candidates are now making promises that we know to have little hope of being kept. We endure such falsehoods because we know that elections are not won or lost by keeping or breaking promises. Elections are won and lost by whose story we choose to believe.

Life shared in community is complex and mysterious, so we employ stories to help us conduct the politics of our life together.

Each candidate and each party is telling us a story that they want us to believe. They are telling us who we are and where we are going as a nation, hoping that their story will make sense to us and inspire us to vote for them.

The Conservatives are telling the story of a dangerous and threatening world. People, both within and beyond our borders, seek to harm our way of life. A Conservative government can be trusted to keep us safe from all of these cultural, economic, and military threats.

The Liberals are telling the story of nostalgia. Once again they have a Trudeau to lead their party, and they are trusting Canadians to remember the days of optimism, growth, and goodwill that they enjoyed under their leader’s father who used the power of his government to make everyone’s lives freer, nobler, and more prosperous. They are telling us that the son of the father can be trusted to do the same.

The New Democrats are telling the story of change. They offer an untried, and therefore uncorrupted, alternative to the traditionally dominant parties. They deserve a chance to make our lives better because they have not made any of the mistakes that the others have.

The Greens have taken the place of the New Democrats as the small but effective voice of conscience in our government and society. They want to deepen and preserve our connection to the ecology of the natural world.

The most disturbing trend of this election campaign has been the almost exclusive focus on the party leaders. The best stories, however, are those that are shared by more than one or even a few people.

Running a country like Canada is a complex and demanding task that is beyond the ability of one person to do it alone. Yet we have been given very little insight into the supporting cast of people who will share in responsibility of decision-making with the leader.

Will it be representatives whom Canadians elect from all across the country serving in the cabinet and committees of Parliament? Or will it be an unelected staff in the Prime Minister’s Office who make key decisions and then seek to enforce discipline within the party’s ranks?

No party has given us a glimpse of the team that might serve in leadership after the election. We only have the stories of the leaders by which to make our decision. Whose story will you choose to guide the life of our country for the next five years?

Think carefully and then, be sure to vote.


Daniel Phannenhour (Pastor Dan) is an unretired Lutheran pastor and father to three lovely young women. He currently lives with his wife in the Oakville parsonage, and is exploring new ways of embodying the Christian faith while celebrating the multicultural and multifaith diversity of our community and nation.

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