Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Please Vote for Me

It's provincial election day today, and in addition to choosing the candidate and their particular party for our local riding, there is a referendum about the voting system itself. I'm not a political animal by any means, but I do feel it is important to vote, as it is our democratic right and a right that much of the world does not have. And if I don't vote, if ever I have an issue with the way things are run, I can't really complain then can I? I haven't been following the election that closely, and the referendum did throw me for a loop.

It was only a couple of weeks ago when I got a flyer in the mail, that I even knew there was a referendum and what the question was. After reading the newspaper on that weekend morning, where they detailed the highlights of the leadership debates, the phone rang and I picked it up. After hearing a very rushed introduction from a very collegiate sounding voice, I decided to give the kid a break and let him have a few minutes of my time to do a survey for this joint university study. A study that was being conducted to see how much Ontarians knew about the upcoming election, what they knew about the referendum, and what they thought about various issues. Probably to judge the effectiveness of the campaigns, media coverage, and accuracy of the polls.

Maybe I'm just a softie because of my work background with clinical studies and experience on the other side when completing my own surveys for university. When he gave me the blurb about consent and confidentiality, he had me hooked. Or maybe I was just in a chatty mood. In any event, my answers were probably all over the map. But I'd like to think that I sounded informed, even if my answers were based on my " Election Referendum for Dummies" speed reading conducted just minutes before. At least I had my husband fooled, as he listened and gestured to me with incredulity. I could see it in his eyes "How do you know all that stuff?". I guess he didn't know what a BS-er his wife could be. Scary.

Which windingly brings me to the original topic of today's post. I saw the cutest film a couple of nights ago, a documentary made in China that was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival just this past September. It's part of a series of films under the umbrella "Why Democracy". The film, called "Please Vote for Me" follows an election of a Hall Monitor in a fairly large school in a Chinese city.

Previously the monitor had always been appointed by the teacher, but this was a lesson in democracy, an emerging concept in China. What made it most interesting and fascinating is that it was a political race between three EIGHT YEAR OLDS and it was quite hilarious, sweet but cut-throat at the same time. The filmmaker followed the three candidates home to see how they coped and prepared for the election, and also how their parents supported and really pressured the kids to well. The process included a talent contest as well as debates between the candidates.

The political antics, backroom agreements, deceit, false promises ... they were all there! You have to see it to believe it! After watching this program, it really gave me a sense of what pressure is to these kids, especially given China's one child policy, and all of the hopes that parents have placed on their only children.

All I can say is after witnessing that, I'm a total softie on my offspring! It also explains some of my mother's interesting childrearing philosophies.

Catch this one if you can, you won't be disappointed.


bec said...

Sounds like a good documentary. I'd like to see that. Was it on TV? Did you rent it?

Kellan Rhodes said...

Our kids are definately growing up in a different world - some of it really scares me to death. I'd like to see this documentary - I like these sorts of stories and China is so interesting - isn't it?

Karen MEG said...

Hi Bec-I saw it on CBC Newsworld the other night. CBC has such great documentaries, we try to catch as many as we can.
Hey Kellan- it is such a different world - but the neat thing about this film is that the kids and families featured appear to be leading middle class lives, demographics not so different from typical N. American families (eg. their homes, the girl's mother is divorced, a single mom) etc...), it looks like a fairly well to do school. It shows kids being kids, and most importantly, acting very human, regardless of country or class. I think it may be playing on PBS at some point in October? At least that's what I've seen in some of my surfing.

FancyMomma said...

That looks good!!

I am so disgusted by the outcome of the election, I cannot even talk about it. also, only 50% voted. Horrible.

Family Adventure said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks for the tip! Sounds like a docu I will have to look up upon my return to Canada. I may even see if I can pick it up somehow for download from here.

The CBC does make killer documentaries, don't they? Just before I left for Norway, I caught one called "The Boy Inside" which has haunted me since. It was about a high-functioning Asperger boy, and how he struggled socially in school and with peers. Heartwrenching, thought-provoking and educational. It really reenforced that old lesson - do NOT judge a book by its cover. I was in tears for half of it!

Karen MEG said...

Hi FM - I know, voter turnout is just terrible - I don't know why people don't turn up - look at what people are dying for in Burma - mind boggles!
Heidi- I'll look for that docu too -I hearing about it but missed it the first time. I don't know much about Asperger's - must be so hard on him and his family.


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