05 September 2011

Democracy Watch: Duff’s guff #nlpoli

Let’s get it simply stated up front:  Democracy Watch is the most inappropriately named organization on the planet, bar none.

They don’t watch for one thing.

And on the specific issue of fixed election dates in some provinces, they are bitching about something, for some unexplained reason but it evidently has frig all to do with democracy.

Here’s the quote you’ll find in a CBC story on the Prince Edward island election.  it’s Duff Conacher, the guy who founded Democracy Watch:

"There's no good reason to have it so early in the fall. It also gives an advantage to the ruling party because it allows the ruling party to, sort of, come off a summer when people aren't really paying attention and get right into a campaign and have it over before people really have a chance to determine whether they want to question the ruling party's ongoing governing."

The Canadian Press story elaborates a bit:

The group says the elections should be set back to the last Monday in October or even early November.

It says parents busy getting children settled in school in September have little time to participate in election campaigns or even pay them much attention.

University students are also tied up in September and may have difficulty establishing residency at their school location until later in October, which keeps them from voting.

Voter turn-out and people getting involved in campaigns has been a problem for years.  Long before fixed election dates.

And the idea that Mom can’t think about anything as important  as an election in October because the kids are back in school the first week of September is just laughably silly.

Establishing residency ain’t a problem either.  Elections offices in the country have had rules in place for decades to handle the thousands of people who move in between elections, fixed date or moveable feast.

If Duff Conacher has a problem with fixed election dates, he needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out what the real problem is.

One of the real problems he might consider is that Duff doesn’t actually talk about problems with democracy across Canada.  Take a look at the Democracy Watch website.  Search for “newfoundland and labrador” or any combination of the words.  Duff’s taken a few e-mails about the shenanigans going on in these quarters over the past decade so he ought to know what’s been going on.

Not a peep from D-watch.

You can hear the crickets chirping and there are no crickets in Newfoundland and Labrador, at least on the island.

No Duff Conacher either.

Not a peep about the ludicrous changes to the provincial election laws in 2004 that created, among other things, a situation where people can vote when there is no election and where independent candidates are disenfranchised.

Not even a whisper when the premier of the province muses aloud about the need to wipe out free speech in the province’s legislatures.

Nothing that Duff Conacher moaned about to the media this weekend is an issue caused by or made worse by having a fixed election in October.

Duff’s out there about fixed election dates, but basically all he is saying is pure guff.

And maybe if he spoke up about real problems affecting democracy across the country, people might take this more seriously.

- srbp -