Cheryl Ashlie

Cheryl Ashlie

MacDuff’s Call: Facing 2019 with a better attitude

Doing my part in improving Canada’s optimism.

Depending on personal experience, the end of 2018 may be fond memories of a year well spent, or one that people are happy to see the backside of, kind of like some of the relatives that stayed way too long over Christmas.

Regardless, come midnight on Dec. 31, Auld Lang Syne will ring out, resolutions will be made and most people will feel optimistic that the new year will bring good health, happiness and, if the stars align, a winning lottery ticket, or some other kind of financial boost, at least, that is, if you are younger.

According to an Ipsos poll conducted in November and December 2017, and which surveyed 28 countries regarding their level of optimism heading into 2018, as reported in Forbes magazine, countries with older populations were less optimistic.

And considering Stats Canada reported, as of 2016, that for the first time in the history of its data collection, seniors outnumbered youth in Canada, it explains why the country’s optimism was surprisingly lower than that of China, India, Russia, South Africa and Brazil. Those countries don’t typically stand out as having a higher quality of life than that of Canada.

Even the United States with Donald Trump as their president felt more optimistic than us – something that should not make sense to anyone who is aware of the opportunities that are abundant in our great country.

Having just turned 60, and fully embracing the fact I am now viewed as an older Canadian — full disclaimer here: I refuse to embrace the senior’s label, except when it gets me the 10 per cent discount — but I accept being considered an older member of society with pride, because my six decades of accumulated wrinkles and aches are reflections of the emotions I am always willing to display and a reminder of being willing to play hard and I don’t begrudge either.

However, I have to admit that I do complain too much, mainly about politics, but it’s complaining all the same and I am sure that the collective complaining of my age group contributed to Canada falling below countries that should not have beat us for optimism, especially when you compare our living conditions to that of those countries.

I am not saying Canada is not without its faults, as we all know there is poverty, abuse and crime in our country. But surely we should feel more optimistic than a citizen of a communist regime, or Brazilians, who face having one of the highest crime rates in the world, and India, where two out three people live in poverty?

And if our ranking is lower simply because we have a larger population of older people that apparently tend to be less optimistic than younger people, that is one aspect of getting older that I do not want to embrace.

Therefore, knowing full well that if any nation should feel optimistic, it should be Canada, because we truly live in a privileged region of the world, my new year’s resolution is to complain less about politics and feel more optimistic about it.

However, to be able to fulfill this resolution, I will have to implement the same tactic that I use to face my no-white-sugar or white flour resolution, whereby I eat all of the Christmas baking from now to Jan. 1 to purge my house of it.

Therefore, in order to bid a final farewell to complaining about politics, I will pack a few of my favourite complaints into the next few paragraphs, just to get the complaining out of my system before 2019.

My favourite complaint that is related to politics is how so few eligible voters bother to vote, which may explain, over and above requiring the use of a Ouija board and a math scholar in the family to decipher the recent electoral reform referendum questions, why only 42.6 per cent of eligible British Columbian voters bothered to participate in the referendum, which, in itself, was also cause for complaining.

Over and above low voter turnout for this particular issue is my complaint about how, even though the few who voted did manage to save the rest from an electoral experiment that would have had British Columbians ‘naval gazing’ for at least another decade, the mishandling of it has robbed us of a proper electoral reform discussion for at least another decade.

Another purge that will help me stick to my resolution is a quick rant about government reviews and studies. Seriously, how many studies does one topic need before government makes a decision? If there is one more study done on bridges, tolls, or transit, I swear there will be a greater likelihood of seeing live unicorns in the Lower Mainland than any improvements to the ever increasing traffic congestion.

My final complaint that I will have a hard time giving up, is the fact that non-profits have to apply annually for gaming funds, even though they are providing a service that is needed that the government has downloaded, or has simply never addressed. Yet government only has to apply to the taxpayer every four years.

Having operated in both, I see non-profits being just as accountable for the day-to-day and tend to be a lot more productive with their limited funding, so I have never figured out why government doesn’t agree to extend the term for funding to at least three years, which would allow non-profits to actually plan ahead.

The rest of my purging of complaints will have to take place while eating butter tarts, but by the 31st of December, I should be ready to face 2019 with a better attitude and

do my part in improving Canada’s optimism for the year ahead.

However, to be completely honest, I usually hit the white sugar and flour around March and considering there is a federal election this year, I expect the “no political complaining” resolution to not last much longer. Regardless, even as an older person, I remain eternally optimistic for the future of our country and I will attempt to keep my complaining to a minimum.

Thank you for taking the time to read my column throughout the year and I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year, inclusive of good health, good times and good finances.

Cheryl Ashlie is a former Maple Ridge school trustee, city councillor, constituency assistant and citizen of the year, and currently president of ARMS.