Little allowance for the “no”

The fireworks are going off on campus. Must be voting time again

Complaints about fair campaigning are important, but they’re the same year after year, so I’ll give them just a little space this time around.

Last year, a friend of one of our staff was stopped by a campaigner in the Meeting Place during the UTMSU elections. (A quick glance at Facebook pages like Spotted at UTM tells you people are increasingly annoyed by this.) The campaigner told her she needed to vote and would she liked to have it all explained to her? She replied that she didn’t have time. He insisted. She joked, “Okay, I’ll vote. But I’m going to vote no.” At this point, the campaigner said, “Oh—uh, that’s okay, never mind.”

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a problem with anyone voting yes. Heck, I might do it myself, no guarantees. But the likelihood of a majority voting yes points to one of the difficulties in any democracy: the few who are involved and have money are very interested in you voting yes. They buy shirts, they put up elaborate websites, they design and print large colour posters, all of it telling you the many reasons why you must support a project that essentially belongs to them. They can even buy an ad on the back page of the Medium (anyone can buy the space, but it’s not very affordable for most students). Where would you hear any other side of it?

The ironic thing is, if it’s mostly business as usual for UTMSU, the whole thing is mostly for show. When was the last time something or someone wasn’t overwhelmingly passed (by a tiny voter turnout)?

Well, one thing’s new. Apparently because they’ve been reading along with the vitriolic Facebook comment wars about it, the Debating Club has announced an open discussion of the expansion (3 p.m. Monday, Council Chambers in Davis) and has invited UTMSU. I’ll go because I’m curious about who’ll be there and what they’ll say—will it be more of the same, or will there actually be a “no”?