Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Citizens Demand Respect

Glen Pearson offers a thoughtful blogpost titled: 'The New Democracy'.
Those who watched the Republican rivals in their leadership debate this week were treated to quite a scene – eight rivals squaring off against one another in hopes of the politics’ ultimate prize. Whatever your political leanings, it was an impressive sight as they spread out across the entire platform.

Sadly, it might be a rare occurrence in the new age of Canadian politics. Last May’s federal election introduced citizens to a new kind of political strategy – opting out of debates. It occurred extensively and was practiced primarily by those running for the Conservative party. This isn’t a partisan shot; it was just a reality that was confronting Canadians for the first time.

Somehow the Conservatives figured on two growing realities. The first was that citizens were increasingly tuning out of politics, and the second was the split vote on the left provided them an obvious advantage in any kind of electoral contest. In both cases they turned out to be right. And now we hear of reports that the Ontario Progressive Conservative candidates are refusing to attend debates in the run-up to the provincial election. What’s going on out there?

Pearson attributes the phenom to candidates' ambition and public inertia. Ambitious pols don't want to fuck up. Public inertia is a reaction to relentless talking points and bullshit. We're starting to believe that none of it matters. Not one of these assholes is going to be accountable to us after the election, so why should they show us any respect even to try to get our votes?

Pearson concludes:
If Jesse Jackson was right when he said, “Deliberation and debate is the way you stir the soul of our democracy,” then any jurisdiction where people refuse to participate in public debates is cheapened. When any party adopts the motto “Silence is Golden” in a campaign, the result is political and social deafness. It might be the new democracy, but it’s demeaning to us all.

In the May federal election, CBC's Janyce McGregor got saddled with maintaining a list of no-shows. It started with a short report that other reporters added to. Members of the public piled on and it got very looooong indeed.

Just now on Twitter I proposed that we help out whoever ends up being the Ontario election's McGregor, by reporting on #NoShows.

I found a few quite easily:

Hudork was a no-show in own riding's all-candidates debate.

In Lambton-Kent-Meddlesex, only three candidates turned up at an all-candidates debate on post-secondary education.
[Lib] Van Bommel made note of [PC Monte] McNaughton's absence in her closing remarks, noting her disappointment that he could not be there to answer questions or defend the Conservative's record on education.

"More importantly, he was not here to listen to the views or concerns of the people of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex," Van Bommel said.

She notes that McNaughton also did not attend an earlier all-candidates meeting regarding agriculture held earlier in the week in Glencoe.

Same in Ottawa.
An all-candidates debate expecting high-profile faces yielded a mere pair of hopefuls for the upcoming Ontario provincial election.

The debate, hosted by the Municipal Taxpayer Advocacy Group, attracted only Liberal Madeleine Meilleur and NDP Anil Naidoo.

But the two candidates are not even going head-to-head in the Oct. 6 provincial election. Meilleur is the incumbent in the riding of Ottawa-Vanier and Naidoo is hoping to steal the seat in Ottawa-Centre from Meilleur's Liberal counterpart Yasir Naqvi.

No Progressive Conservative candidate appeared before the disappointed crowd.

The event held at Ottawa City Hall was advertised as an arena for known names such as Randall Denley, Jack MacLaren and Bob Chiarelli.

The Cons got away with this in the federal election, but then they were the governing party.

If Hudork and gang -- or any of them -- think they can hide from us and we'll vote for them anyway, let's show them they've got another think coming.

Pearson tagged his post with 'political absence'. I'd call it political abstinence and like sexual abstinence, let's show the pols it will NOT continue to work.

Keep an eye on local reporting. If you go to meetings, note no-shows.

If you're on twitter use #NoShow and #VoteOn. If you're not, leave links here and I'll twitterize them.

PILE ON: Dr. Dawg! Who else?

Image source


DoubleDee said...

From today's Ottawa Citizen. Rob Dekker the Con candidate in Ottawa Centre is not attending an all candidates meeting on education due to a "prior commitment". One would think that in May he knew he would be in the middle of an election campaign so why wouldn't he make alternate arrangements?

fern hill said...

DoubleDee's link.

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