20 September 2007

Two views of democracy

From today's Telegram a rather bizarrely written editorial trying to make an issue of a candidate for one party who voted in the open nomination process of another.

Bizarre because apart from the smear of referring to political cross-dressing, the editorial gets the facts wrong:
But take this curious situation: Simon Lono, a Liberal candidate in St. John's North, actually attended a Tory nomination meeting in St. John's East and voted for a candidate there, even though he wasn't eligible to vote in the district at all.
This comment makes it sound like Lono did something improper or illegal.

He didn't.

The shifting of boundaries created problems across the province, but especially in St. John's where district line shifted by one street or another. In this case, the Progressive Conservative candidates themselves blanketed areas of the old St. John's East boundary which included Lono's house. Turns out the district association decided to use the new boundaries, even though they weren't legally in effect.

This editorial is something one might expect from a locally owned newspaper with a political agenda, one that took to printing tripe to fill up its page three in the weeks leading up to the election. It's unusual for the Telegram; conspicuously different from the norm.

Conspicuous too, given that in January 2007, the Telly's sister daily endorsed open nominations as a means by which all citizens can become involved in the political process at the grass roots. progressive Conservative candidates blanketed the airwaves of commercial radio with appeals for voters - any and all voters irrespective of party - to come and vote in the PC nomination process.

Were someone to ask, one would likely find that men and women from across the province have voted for candidates of different parties at various times and have participated in nomination processes for parties other than the one they usually support.

There's nothing sinister about it, nor is there any implication of some form of political gender confusion, whatever that is.

No one seems to be confused here, except the editors at the Telegram. The thing that has confused them most are the pesky things that normally confound their independently minded competitors across town: facts.

The Western Star (Corner Brook)
Opinion, Saturday, January 20, 2007, p. 6

Byelection promises to be interesting

Next month's by election in Port au Port has drawn a slew of candidates lining up for the PC party nomination. The byelection became necessary with the resignation of PC Jim Hodder, who after serving 21 years in the House of Assembly, decided to leave for health reasons.

It's good to see that seven citizens have come forward to offer themselves because it shows there is real interest in the seat and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod when voting takes place Monday.

The Progressive Conservative party has opened nomination voting to the general public and they're to be commended for doing so. A person shouldn't have to be a card-carrying member of the party to help make the decision on who their candidate will be.

Often voters are undecided in an election and tend to vote for the man or the woman rather than along party lines. This open system gives any person the opportunity to be involved at the grassroots level of politics. There are good candidates running for the PC nomination and whoever takes it will likely have a fight on his or her hands since the district was known to be a Liberal one in the past.

That changed in the last election when Hodder took it from incumbent Gerald Smith and it remains to be seen what message voters want to send this time around.

With a general election coming in the fall, this byelection promises to be more interesting than most.