Monday, December 19, 2005

If we're so conservative around here, where are the Air Cadets?

I've been told that this southeast corner of Saskatchewan is conservative.

The history of federal elections here seems to confirm that, at least since the Diefenbaker sweep of 1958.

1905-1918 - Liberal - John Gillanders Turriff; called to the Senate in 1918
1919-1921 - United Farmers - Oliver Robert Gould
1921-1925 - Progressive - Oliver Robert Gould
1925-1935 - Liberal - Robert McKenzie; accepted "an office of emolument under the Crown" in 1935
1936-1940 - Liberal - Hon. James Garfield Gardiner
1940-1945 - Liberal - Jesse Pickard Tripp
1945-1949 - Co-operative Commonwealth Federation - Edward George McCullough
1949-1953 - Liberal - John James Smith
1953-1958 - Co-operative Commonwealth Federation - Edward George McCullough
1958-1972 - Progressive Conservative - Richard Russell Southam
1972-1979 - Progressive Conservative - Alvin Hamilton
1979-1993 - Progressive Conservative - Len Gustafson
1993-1997 - Liberal - Bernie Collins
1997-2000 - Reform - Roy H. Bailey
2000-2004 - Canadian Alliance - Roy H. Bailey
2004-present - Conservative - Ed Komarnicki
Source: Parliamentary website, History of Federal Ridings Since 1867

I am pretty sure that the incumbent, Ed Komarnicki, was elected on the basis of either his party affiliation or his personal stand on a traditional definition of marriage, or probably some of both. He was not elected just because he was well known, or seen as a strong advocate for the particular interests of the riding. If voters had been looking for an advocate for farmers, Liberal candidate Lonny McKague would have had a much stronger showing. No, the 2004 election results seem to confirm that this is a conservative area.

In the extreme southeast corner of this area, I have seen billboard signs proclaiming bible verses. That seems to fit the stereotype of conservatism.

Kate McMillan comes from this area. Her conservative blog, small dead animals (SDA), just won "Best Canadian Blog" in the Weblog Awards 2005.

I often disagree with Kate, but her blog remains one of my favourites. She writes clearly and strongly, and I enjoy her occasional references to Arcola and area. I have to admit, I also read SDA partly as a way of educating myself about conservative viewpoints. I realize that I can't assume that Kate's viewpoint is always a typical conservative view of an issue, but from the comments she gets, and her popularity, I figure she must be fairly representative.

One of the characteristics I've noticed in Kate and her readers is a strong support for the military. I have been assuming that this is a conservative trait, but something doesn't fit.

Tonight was the Christmas Parade for Moose Mountain Air Cadets Squadron #723 in Carlyle. The 2005-2006 Roll stands at 17 Cadets. The nearest other Cadet Units are in Moosomin, Montmartre, Weyburn, Estevan, and Oxbow. Only 17 Cadets from the entire Moose Mountain area?

Only 2 Cadets from Arcola? And my daughter one of them?

I keep thinking that people must see me as hopelessly left-wing. I have heard that someone declared the United Church in Arcola won't be around much longer, because it's too left-wing. Yet it is two United Church familes that have contributed the two Air Cadets from this town. I know, it's only her first year, and not even half over, but at least she is there giving it a try. I hear that many of her peers snicker at the mention of Cadets. I hear that being seen in a Cadet uniform draws taunts from other young people. What is going on? If this area is so conservative, where is the support for Air Cadets?

Are people supportive of the military, and at the same time, for some reason, hostile to the cadet program? Do they perhaps see it as a sugar-coated feel-good program for people who will never join the real military?

Am I wrong in my assumption that support for the military is a conservative trait?

Are people in this area voting Conservative, but not conservative in their views?

Is there a generation gap? Are the aging voters mostly conservative in their views, and Conservative in their loyalties, while the generation currently raising children has moved away from these views and loyalties? (And if so, are we moving towards a sea-change in the electoral history of this riding?)

I wonder. Are the people of my generation still talking and voting from a conservative standpoint, but actually living something else? I am glad to see my daughter taking an interest in Air Cadets. She is already very responsible and self-disciplined, but I hope she will learn more about the military that we rely on for the defense of our country, and about our responsibility as citizens to support it. I think if I were more conservative, I would be doing my best to inspire my kids to join Air Cadets, if not outright forcing them to go. As it is, I can only shake my head and wonder what I did right. Perhaps I'm more conservative than I realize?

Update - as I trickled off to sleep last night, I realized that I wrote this as if I am the sole influence on our kids. I'm starting to think like a single parent. I didn't even mention that Garth is a former Air Cadet. Of course he was a major influence.

I don't think of Garth as being very conservative either.

And regardless of our influence on our own daughter, my question stands: why isn't this conservative area sending more of its youth to Cadets?

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