I know her name- it is Megan Leslie. I know what she looks like- she has short dark hair in no particular style and she looks like most of the mums and the teachers I see outside my daughter’s school. She has told me what interests her: Afghanistan, Foreign Aid, Immigration, Job Creation, Environment and some other words which begin with capital letters. She has told me she would be honoured to participate in any community event or festival I may be having, including “special birthday parties” (???!!!). She’s won an award for MPing. How do I know all this, I whose political ear is notoriously tone-deaf?
Because I regularly find letters and papers from Ms. Leslie in my mailbox, along with a host of other flyers and special offers and the occasional bill. These papers usually lie about in a heap on the living room floor until they are disposed of in one fell swoop. A couple of days ago, I received a paper larger than usual- four pages as large as a newspaper, with pictures. For some reason or other, it did not get thrown out with the rest of the flyers, but migrated onto my living room sofa. This afternoon, desperate to read something not related to my thesis, I began reading it.
What is the Minister of Environment going to do about the barge “The Shovelmaster” which sank in the ocean off the coast of Yarmouth last year? The deisel fuel which is seeping from the vessel into the ocean is deteriorating lobster fishing grounds. Nova Scotians want action. Now.
This was Megan’s Question to the government, highlighted in the paper, accompanied with a picture of her presumably asking the question.
Well. Strange choice of question to print. Never have I felt less of a Canadian, or rather, less of a Nova Scotian than when reading this question. Is this really what Nova Scotians are concerned about? I am not so naive to imagine that the question came unprompted, free from political lobster manouverings and shady lobster interests behind scenes. For indeed, I cannot imagine having such a burning interest in the lobster habitats off the coast of Yarmouth- at least so burning as to choose to highlight this question out of all the other possible questions.
And yet, I should not be so ungracious towards Ms. Leslie. At least she has told me, the passive nameless faceless statistic in her constituency, her Questions. She has told me where she works, what she looks like, who she is, how to contact her. Back home, in Tehran, I never had any idea. Nor did anyone else. Who was the MP in my area? What did he ask from the government? (It’s a safe bet it’s a he- although we do have a smattering of female MPs.) Did he care about lobsters? What did he care about? What did he look like? Where did he work? Why did he never send me any newsletters and updates?
Suddenly, I really want to know.