The sour taste of apathy

Before you go to bed, sip a teaspoon of olive oil and suck on a lemon wedge.

The Italian grandmother—la nonna—offered me this caveat to cure inflammatory bowel disease.

What she lacks in medical knowledge, Nonna makes up for with fierce, obsessive love for her children and grandchildren. She’s fought the fight and only wants what’s best for us.

I’ll explain how this relates to the AMS elections.

Nonna puts a ridiculous amount of faith in her mother’s wisdom, particularly because she left her mother and Pordenone, a north-eastern Italian city featured in Hemmingway’s , on her wedding day with her new husband in 1951. They starved during the Second World War, and Nonno’s brother lost a toe to frostbite fighting for the Axis in Russia.

Like thousands of others during the 1950s, Nonno and Nonna immigrated to Canada after a tumultuous period in European politics—Mussolini is still a “great man,” if you ask them.

Growing up in Toronto, my father worked as soon as he could. He scrubbed chicken guts off a Keele Street butcher’s blades when he was 12, and drove a produce delivery truck before he had his driver’s licence. My mother’s parents are also Italian, but born in Canada. Their parents left Italy after the First World War, one of my great-grandfathers being forced out because he was a socialist and had to flee for his safety.

My mother’s parents were Depression kids and still won’t waste anything or spend unnecessarily. After a hot day at the driving range about seven years ago, Nonno scolded my brother and me for buying a Gatorade from a vending machine because we were only five minutes from free orange juice at home.

Nonno turns 80 this Sunday, and there will be 17 courses of food and three generations of family to celebrate.

In the last 80 years, Western history’s mass political movements have emptied on to the world. The fight for freedom of expression and civil liberties—and I’m talking about 50,000 people marching on Parliament, not 75 people walking down Princess Street—has quieted.

At Queen’s, student politics don’t matter much to people outside the and the AMS. Students are complacent, the political atmosphere neutered. It’s no surprise we’ll probably have less than 30 per cent of students vote in February’s AMS executive election.

For the 70 per cent of students who don’t vote: way to show the world that all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the view—someone else has already done your fighting.

You would think with so many people in a position of privilege—one nonno of mine didn’t bother with school and the other couldn’t afford it—students would want to do better because they are in a position to do so.


To combat student indifference, the Journal will dedicate a portion of its election coverage to election issues from students’ perspectives. We will go beyond reporting about campaign platforms and focus instead on issues that you would like to see discussed.

It is our hope that you will, at the very least, vote on election day—even if it’s to spoil your ballot.

And if going to candidate debates gives you indigestion, I know something you could take to cure it.

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