THE DOORBELL RANG, which is never a good thing. What fresh hell is this? Religious zealots? Lawn aeration? Bottle drive? Nothing like trying to explain away the empties to a judgmental 11-year-old.
Opened the door to three well-turned-out adults with million-watt smiles. Oh God, zealots.
“New Democrats!” announced the second, elbowing his way to the front.
“Greens!” chirped a perky woman, hopping up behind the other two.
My shoulders slumped. I had forgotten about the provincial election. “You sure you’re not Moonies?”
No such luck. “We’d like your vote!” they chanted in unison, a cheerier version of the Children of the Corn.
“I’d like to ride a unicorn and grow bangs,” I replied.
This did not faze them, as they weren’t really listening. Instead, they began dangling shiny trinkets before my eyes, each trying to drown out the others.
“We promise a $15 minimum wage!”
“Lower bridge tolls!”
“No bridge tolls!”
“Frozen ferry fares!”
“I see your frozen fares and raise you a rollback!”
“Free daycare for toddlers and $500 a month for stay-at-home parents!”
“We have $10 babies!”
“Wait, no, let me check my notes …”
One put a hand on my shoulder and looked at me solemnly: “No one can force you to wear high heels at work anymore.”
Thank heavens. My back’s been killing me. “How about a tie? Can they make me wear a tie?”
They pressed on.
“We’ll knock $1,000 off student debt.”
“We’ll knock $2,000 a year off student debt.”
“We’ll pay you to take Calculus 12!”
I tried to get a word in edgewise: “Here’s what I’m worried about: The world’s two most unstable/bellicose leaders are waving their missiles at each other. We’re 100 kilometres from the Kitsap naval base, home to what may be the world’s largest concentration of nuclear weapons. How good a shot is Kim Jong-un?”
Apparently no one wanted to tackle that one, because they just ignored me.
“Andrew Weaver will double you on his bike!”
I tried again.
“The experiment with four-year municipal elections has proven a disaster for everyone but professional politicians. Super entertainment value, though. How about free popcorn at Nanaimo council meetings?”
They paused, then began flipping through their pamphlets. “Not in the literature,” muttered one.
I attempted another question. “Those whose financial well-being is tied up in their homes can’t afford a drop in real-estate prices. Those who are shut out of the market can’t afford for them to rise. How will you reconcile this?”
They said nothing, just furrowed their brows.
I kept going, finding my rhythm.
“A $200 donation to a registered B.C. political party earns a tax break of $125. Yet if you donate the same amount to charity, the tax credit is only worth $40. Can you explain why your party is more than three times as deserving as the Cancer Society?
“I paid $500 for lunch with your leader and got offered a free trip on United Airlines in return. Under the Criminal Code, is that ‘bribery’ or ‘uttering a threat?’
“In the 2014 civic elections, 75 per cent of the people who got to vote on some sort of Greater Victoria amalgamation question voted ‘yes,’ but local elected officials ignored their wishes, wouldn’t even agree to study the pros and cons of a municipal merger. What do you think should happen to elected officials who betray the wishes of their voters?”
The trio on my doorstep looked at each other, confused.
“I don’t think he speaks English,” said one. “Maybe we should leave.” They began to back away.
“The total provincial debt is expected to reach $78 billion in 2019, up from $45 billion in 2011,” I said. “Who is supposed to pay for all this stuff?”
At this, they turned on their heels and bolted.
“Wait!” I called. “How about lawn aeration?”
They had vanished as quickly as a campaign promise.