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The Editor’s Desk: A little this and that

From local elections to live web feeds, and from bouquets to brickbats

Election rave: To everyone who put their name forward on a ballot. Many people complain about government at all levels, but very few have the courage of their convictions and do the work to try to get elected. Change doesn’t come about because of Facebook posts; it happens because people work to get elected and then work in office to effect change. Even if you came up short at the ballot box, you deserve a huge thanks for participating.

Election rant: To everyone who didn’t vote this year. Local government is the level of government that impacts people’s lives the most, yet municipal elections typically see the lowest voter turnout. This year was especially bad in B.C.: preliminary numbers show that only 37.07 per cent of British Columbians bothered to vote, down from 41.95 per cent in 2018. By contrast, the 2020 B.C. provincial election saw 54.5 per cent voter turnout, while the 2019 and 2021 federal elections saw 76 and 75 per cent of eligible B.C. voters respectively cast a ballot.

In our area, voter turnout ranged from 69.9 per cent (Clinton) and 68.2 per cent (Lytton) to 58.6 per cent (Cache Creek). Ashcroft saw a dismal 30.5 per cent voter turnout, and even that looks stellar compared with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, where only 16.3 per cent of electors could be bothered to vote. There’s another municipal election in 2026: if you didn’t vote this time, resolve to do better in four years.

Short shelf life? Oct. 15 saw some turmoil and drama in B.C. politics, but all of it pales in comparison with British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad first six weeks in office. She was sworn in on Sept. 6, and many Britons breathed a sigh of relief that the chaotic, shambolic reign of Boris Johnson was at an end. Surely Truss would be a safe pair of hands who would steady the ship of state?

Well, no, not really. On Sept. 8 Queen Elizabeth II died; hardly Truss’s fault, but as far as symbolism goes it appears to have been remarkably on the nose. After a lengthy parliamentary break occasioned by the Queen’s death, Truss and her Chancellor (Minister of Finance) Kwasi Kwarteng introduced a mini-budget that instead of righting the ship caused it to do a passable imitation of the sinking of the Titanic, only without a Celine Dion power ballad to accompany it.

Overnight — literally — the mini-budget caused havoc in the financial markets, drove the pound to a four-decade low against the American dollar, led to a spike in mortgage rates for millions of people and caused thousands of house deals to die in the course of a day, and led to the Bank of England having to step in to prop up pension funds.

After insisting she would stay the course and not make any U-turns, Truss took a look at the chaos and heroically did the right thing and resigned. Sorry, no, I got that wrong; she sacked Kwarteng, then did a series of U-turns that means all that is left of her mini-budget is the title. The Daily Star has set up a live web feed of a picture of Truss beside an iceberg lettuce, and British punters are making bets on which one will last longer. If you don’t laugh, you cry.

[Edited to add: This piece was written on Oct. 18 and posted online on Oct. 19. On Oct. 20, Liz Truss resigned as Prime Minister, so anyone who bet on the head of lettuce is quids-in.]

Soothing salmon: Speaking of live web feeds, I stumbled across a YouTube channel showing a 24/7 live shot from a camera underwater in the Adams River. Particles dance in the hazy water, with small and slightly less small fish wiggling and shimmering and darting past, and sockeye salmon, pink and green, gliding by. It’s oddly soothing, although I guess I’ve watched too many horror films, since I keep expecting to see something huge come lunging out straight to camera. Add the theme from Jaws playing on a loop, and the experience would be well-nigh perfect.

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