A recent Globe and Mail piece surveyed the risks involved with being a Canadian federal politician on a busy schedule of campaigning. As the electorate, we’re concerned about taxes’the fiscal kind; on the other hand, politicians probably are’and should be’also worried about the taxes on their bodies while on the campaign trail. The demands, according to MPs interviewed in the article, of little sleep, unhealthy food and constantly travelling and meeting voters, can be intense.
Concerns about politicians’ health are especially pertinent this election, as some voters have questioned the NDP’s Jack Layton about his health (Layton is battling prostate cancer and recently had surgery on his hip) and thus, his ability to lead the country. But concerns about the day-to-day rigours of an election campaign seem a bit overblown. Getting enough sleep and eating healthy is a major challenge for most Canadians, and even more so for hardcore careerists and young parents, and any other group that finds themselves time-strapped.
Let’s compare the candidates’ lifestyles to average Canadians’:
Candidates: Hedy Fry, a Liberal MP in Vancouver told the Globe, "We [the candidates] tend to get home sometimes at midnight or later. During the campaign on a good night I can get six [hours of sleep]. On a bad night I can get four."
Voters: Ask a university student or a young mom how much sleep they got last week. Four hours a night probably sounds pretty good to them.
Candidates: Just to keep up with the schedules, leaders and staffers eat whenever they can when they’re on the road. And those working for MPs in the offices are treated to a parade of pizzas, according to a candidate interviewed by the Globe and Mail.
To get some insight into what the party leaders are eating, just follow Canada.com’s Election Diet photo gallery. We can tell Jack Layton’s diet last week included a rich pastry, a brewski and a smoked meat sandwich. Harper, Ignatieff and Ducceppe are pictured grilling up sausages, tucking into a plate of fries, sitting down to a feast of hot dogs’it’s not any dietitian’s idea of a healthy diet.
Voters: Well, I definitely indulged in at least one dessert last week, enjoyed a drink and ate pizza more than once. It’s was a busy week!
Candidates: Lee Richardson, a Conservative MP in Calgary, hits the gym every morning to fit in a workout before he starts knocking on voters’ doors. Other candidates are less diligent about getting regular exercise and that the election makes it even harder to fit fitness in.
Voters: The average Canadian is overweight and spends more time sitting than at the gym.
So, after May 2 and a gruelling campaign, will the candidates be fit to govern? Not any more than the rest of us, it seems.