Ab­so­lute power is last thing we need


If there was ever a provin­cial elec­tion in our his­tory any more pre­dictable than our last trip to the polls in 2007 un­der Dy­namic Danny, it would have to be the one tak­ing place next Tues­day, Oct. 11.

Ev­ery­body knows, or think they know, the Tories are go­ing to win the elec­tion hands down.

Now loyal Lib­er­als and com­mit­ted New Democrats wouldn’t agree with that — at least not pub­licly. But pri­vately, even staunch, die-hard Grits whose moth­ers and fathers be­fore them have not voted any other way since Con­fed­er­a­tion, will ad­mit their great­est fear is that be­tween Kathy Dun­derdale and Lor­raine Michael, they are go­ing to be wiped off the po­lit­i­cal map on Oct. 11.

With the polls show­ing the Lib­er­als in third place be­hind the New Democrats and said to be bleed­ing sup­port to the NDP, not to men­tion scram­bling to find can­di­dates at the last minute, any fears of po­lit­i­cal an­ni­hi­la­tion may not be that far out in left field.

Out­side of Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair and The Straits-White Bay North, are there any safe Lib­eral seats in the prov­ince? Are even those seats safe this time around?

De­spite the polls, his­tory has shown any­thing can hap­pen on polling day. For ex­am­ple, in the provin­cial gen­eral elec­tion of 1989, Tom Ride­out and his Tories were lead­ing Clyde Wells’ Grits in the polls at the start of the cam­paign. By the time polling day rolled around, the Tories man­aged to win the pop­u­lar vote, but Wells had won what re­ally counted, enough seats to form a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity govern­ment, de­spite not win­ning his own seat. That was a strange one in­deed! But one not likely to be re­peated this time around.

A more re­cent ex­am­ple of polling day anom­alies took place in the May fed­eral elec­tion. At the be­gin­ning of that cam­paign, not even the pun­dits could pre­dict in their wildest dreams, the orange surge that swept over Que­bec, wip­ing out the Bloc, and mak­ing the NDP the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion for the first time in Cana­dian his­tory.

The provin­cial NDP are hop­ing some of that orange glow will cross the straits and shine on them on Oct. 11.

But out­side Sig­nal Hill-Quidi Vidi, is there a safe NDP seat in this prov­ince? For their sake, there had bet­ter be, if they hope to re­place the Lib­er­als as the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion in these parts.

Be­sides the hand­ful of districts that could go ei­ther way on elec­tion night, those that could be termed too close to call and in­ter­est­ing to watch, are few and far be­tween.

Lucky for us, one of them hap­pens to be in our neck of the woods. Port de Grave is close enough to at least keep view­ers awake, if not on the edge of their chester­fields on elec­tion night.

If the Tories do sweep the prov­ince next week, it may be good for Kathy Dun­derdale and her party. But not so hot for democ­racy, which al­ways works best with an ef­fec­tive op­po­si­tion to act as a watch­dog and keep a govern­ment on its toes, es­pe­cially a bloated one.

The last thing we need is to be gov­erned by any po­lit­i­cal party with ab­so­lute power. We came close enough to that sorry state af­ter the last provin­cial elec­tion.

Back in the 1960s when the once great and well oiled Lib­eral Party ma­chine was in top gear and go­ing at full throt­tle, steam­rolling ev­ery Tory and so­cial­ist in sight, Joey used to joke about pos­si­bly hav­ing to “ap­point an op­po­si­tion” af­ter the next elec­tion.

In the name of democ­racy and good govern­ment, if there is such an an­i­mal, af­ter Oct. 11, let’s hope Kathy Dun­derdale doesn’t have to go that far.

— Bill Bow­man, The Com­pass

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