Wednesday, July 24, 2024
July 24, 2024

Editorial: Gratitude to Adam

Saanich North and the Islands Green party MLA Adam Olsen shocked community members last week by announcing he will not seek a third term this fall.

Anyone who has observed Olsen at work in our riding for the past seven years would have seen a person who seemed indefatigable as he thrived in the job. He has been an exceptional MLA and a strong advocate for Salt Spring and Gulf Islands concerns. He reports to constituents with a monthly column, community meetings and frequent social media posts, and has been a regular guest at ASK Salt Spring sessions since its inception. He seems to be everywhere and anywhere, as requested.

Olsen’s reason for not seeking election for a third term is entirely justifiable. Due to his political commitments, beginning in 2008 when he became a Central Saanich municipal councillor, his two children have grown up with a largely absent father. Olsen isn’t willing to let that continue for another four years. Admirably, he can’t see doing the job any other way than in full-on mode. But the loss of Olsen at the provincial political level highlights how without some form of support or structural change — MLA job sharing; more funds for staff support? — we run the risk of being overrepresented by older individuals without family considerations.

Politicians face extraordinarily high expectations. It’s as if they begin their careers with a full glass of grace points, and each real or perceived error takes a sip out of that glass. The political career is over when the glass is empty. (Imagine if the same process applied to corporations that fail to serve us flawlessly. We would have new banks, telecommunications companies and airlines replacing the old ones on a regular basis.)

These days, politicians and their families are also subject to unimaginable mindless abuse via online platforms, as well as in person in some cases. A diversity of voices in the political realm is reduced when elected officials must endure constant threats to safety, yet more diversity is needed if democracy is to function properly with broad representation.

We know Olsen will continue to serve the public in other capacities. He is a natural born leader and facilitator. But we need to find a way to make it easier for truly good people of all ages and circumstances to be the political leaders we so desperately need.

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