What a vote means
It was an interesting thought to throw out there, and not outside the realm of possibilities judging from how this provincial election campaign is going.
Telegram political reporter James McLeod tweeted a while back that a full 40-person Liberal sweeps of the House of Assembly would be preferable to an opposition with one or two members.
Before you accuse him of being a partisan muckraker (should note McLeod takes pride in not voting to avoid bias), what McLeod was looking to point out was a sweep might compel government to take a serious look at how non-functional the legislature is.
Folks like McLeod who sit through sittings of the house have a unique perspective on these sorts of issues. When the house is in session, debates tend not to amount to much in terms of sharing important news with the populace or influencing the decisions of a majority government. It’s more about chest-puffing, backslapping, and finding reasons to appear indignant.
That doesn’t suggest an opposition lacks importance. It’s their job to hold the governing party accountable to the public. Opposition MHAs are more often willing to speak with media about troubling issues and can help bring to light problems within government.
With that in mind, it’s a little disconcerting to see there’s an honest chance the Progressive Conservatives and NDP could be left with no seats.
Just last week, a pair of Abacus Data polls suggested Premier Paul Davis and prominent PC cabinet minister Steve Kent are both in trouble. A poll for NDP leader Earle McCurdy’s St. John’s district indicated he has virtually no shot of getting elected as an MHA.
This sort of data paints a grim picture for candidates not knocking on doors for the Liberals.
It’s great to have the power to participate in a democratic election — not all people in the world can say the same. For supporters of the parties that are not anticipated to form the next government, it would be wise to make sure you get out to cast your ballot. Otherwise, the House of Assembly will become an echo chamber.
As for the provincial Liberals, they’d do well to follow the lead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The federal Liberals are proposing to investigate electoral reform. Preferential ballots and proportional representation will likely be up for discussion.
Electoral reform merits attention in this province, because a House of Assembly with no opposition to speak of hardly sounds like the will of the people.