08 November 2010

My own electoral grandpa: vote in an election that isn’t happening yet

Danny Williams is worried that local politics is being more like the American system.

Much like the more benighted souls in some parts of Eastern Europe, most of Africa and gigantic chunks of the Middle East, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians could only dream of such a thing.

You see, even though they live in one of the most civilised places in the world – Canada – they are subjected to electoral laws introduced since 2003 that make it possible for people to vote in elections that don’t actually exist. Talk about making a mockery of our democratic legacy.

News of the latest version of this farce came from ads in the local papers.  in itself that is another reminder of the backward steps for democracy taken in this province since 2003.  Where once the chief electoral officer was a non-partisan public servant, the last two have been partisans.  One was a former Liberal cabinet minister. 

The current one had to resign from his seat on a party organizing committee in order to take the job. The party, of course, is the province’s Reform-based Conservative Party, and the guy who currently serves as chief electoral officer used to be the president of that highly partisan crowd.

This is yet another one of those things you could not make up.  You could not make it up because it is the most ridiculous idea imaginable in a democracy.

Yet it exists as the law in this province.  It’s one of a package of “reforms” introduced by the governing Conservatives after 2003 that turned out to be more of a farce than not.  Meanwhile, the meaningful reforms Danny Williams promised in 2003 - new campaign finance laws, for one - simply vanished as if they never existed.  What was it he used to say about unkept promises?

And if you enjoyed this little tidbit of electoral idiocy, consider the version in 2007 when Williams called a by-election that never actually happened.  This was the original version of “I am my own electoral grandpa”.

- srbp -