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EDITORIAL: Expect more MP sightings

The Great Lobsterman Challenge that was held once again as part of the Shelburne County Lobster Festival. WAYNE MALONE PHOTO
Hijinks during the Great Lobsterman Challenge at the Shelburne County Lobster Festival in Nova Scotia earlier this month. You can expect to see MPs pop up at cultural events all over the country this summer, as they gear up for a fall election. — SaltWire Network file photo

It’s almost certainly the best time of the year to see them — and this promises to be a particularly excellent year for viewing. (More on that in a minute.)

Normally flocking noisily in a handful of roosts in Central Canada, individual Memberosus parliamentus generally migrate widely outwards in spring and early summer, but this year, the migration is expected to be particularly frenetic, with members of the species likely to pop up at nearly any civic or summer function.

Notable in our region this year for their consistent Liberal-red plumage, M. parliamentus is fond of any event with more than a handful of voters, and eagerly makes its presence known, sounding its jovial call and extending a hand for ritual shaking.

Yes, the House of Commons is about to wind up, dispersing its members Canada-wide in this most important of summers, the summer leading up to a federal election.

The impending election means even those who have rarely clapped eyes on an actual living member of Parliament will have an excellent chance to do exactly that: MPs will be working the summer barbecue/corn boil/festival circuit, getting as much face time as prudent exposure to the summer sun will allow.

The impending election means even those who have rarely clapped eyes on an actual living member of Parliament will have an excellent chance to do exactly that: MPs will be working the summer barbecue/corn boil/festival circuit, getting as much face time as prudent exposure to the summer sun will allow.

And it won’t be just your member, either. Chances are, from Raptors victory events to town parades, the leaders of the federal parties will be in heavy tour rotation this summer as well.

It’s a gruelling part of politics that few think about: getting your face and name as widely known as possible. There’s a clear advantage for incumbent politicians — they can essentially soft-key campaign well in advance of the election call, all the while continuing to draw their parliamentary paycheque. (Other candidates generally have to stick with their day jobs until the formal campaign actually begins.)

The soft campaigning isn’t just accepted, it’s considered part of the job. Even in non-election years, MPs glad-hand their way around as many summer events as possible. The facetime does let them hear constituents’ concerns, answer voters’ questions and generally take the public temperature of their ridings.

But in election years, it’s even more important. Parliamentarians nationwide want to be seen — at public functions, in the most local of local media possible, at every event where there’s a prize to be presented or a photo taken.

If you’re out and about and you see one, by all means approach. Election years are when Memberosus parliamentus are at their most gregarious. They’ll answer your questions, usually explain their party’s policies when asked directly, and take the time for a (short) debate about their party’s direction.

Oh, and if you happen to stumble across one this summer, take pictures. Lots of pictures.

Later on, without their election plumage, they can be surprisingly hard to find.

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