Voter re­as­sur­ance is at stake here

Sackville Tribune - - OPINION -

t’s a re­lief to hear a voice of rea­son amid the on­go­ing ac­cu­sa­tions re­gard­ing the robo­call scan­dal that grew out of the last elec­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly, the bal­anced view is com­ing from a pa­tri­arch of the cur­rent Con­ser­va­tive party - even if the Con­ser­va­tives them­selves have been eva­sive in ac­knowl­edg­ing a prob­lem as the op­po­si­tion casts barbs.

Pre­ston Man­ning, Re­form party founder and leader, on Fri­day called the ac­tions de­plorable that saw phone mes­sages de­liv­ered to vot­ers that po­ten­tially could rob them of their vote. Speak­ing out­side a con­ser­va­tive con­fer­ence spon­sored by his Cen­tre for Democ­racy he told re­porters through­out his life he’s worked to get peo­ple more po­lit­i­cally en­gaged and called it de­plorable that peo­ple could be work­ing against that grain.

That, in a nutshell, is the tragedy here. Canada has too many vot­ers who don’t ex­er­cise the right due to ap­a­thy. We don’t need an added el­e­ment of them think­ing there’s fraud in­volved.

Pro­tec­tive in­stinct or not, Man­ning also ad­vised against sim­ply point­ing fin­gers at the Con­ser­va­tives. He be­lieves the prob­lem is broader than that, and sug­gested bet­ter eth­i­cal train­ing for cam­paign work­ers. Many, he added, get their po­lit­i­cal train­ing in the U.S., where pol­i­tics are more ag­gres­sive.

Let’s say the fin­ger point­ing does sub­side. The Con­ser­va­tives only re­cently, un­der pres­sure, con­ceded to the NDP’S quest for greater pow­ers to Elec­tion Canada to in­ves­ti­gate, to make par­ties pro­vide proof of their cam­paign fi­nan­cial re­turns.

The Con­ser­va­tives, coun­ter­ing ac­cu­sa­tions in this af­fair, have con­tin­u­ally been find­ing ways to de­flect blame for the robo­calls, say­ing it’s a rogue el­e­ment at work, or tech­ni­cal flaws - or have sim­ply char­ac­ter­ized the whole thing as a smear cam­paign.

Sim­ple de­nial of wrong­do­ing isn’t re­as­sur­ing. Com­mit­ting to find ways of elim­i­nat­ing the po­ten­tial for this is.

Elec­tions can’t be about win­ning at all costs. They have to be about hav­ing the con­fi­dence of Cana­di­ans.

I

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