Fail­ure of democ­racy

The Southern Gazette - - NEWS - Evan Ca­reen, Edi­tor Grand Falls-Wind­sor Advertiser

There’s an old say­ing ‘peo­ple get the govern­ment they de­serve’.

Which is true, be­cause they are duly elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple, cho­sen by the peo­ple, for the peo­ple. This is also a true state­ment in terms of ac­cla­ma­tion.

If no one can be both­ered to throw their name into the hat for an elected po­si­tion, they are in no po­si­tion to com­plain when the politi­cian who walked into of­fice does some­thing they don’t like.

Judg­ing from the nom­i­na­tion lists this mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion this year has be­come a prob­lem in New­found­land. In a num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties in the cen­tral area, and across the prov­ince, there are coun­cils and may­ors who didn’t have to try very hard at all for the hon­our of rep­re­sent­ing the peo­ple, be­cause no one both­ered to chal­lenge them.

There are usu­ally two main rea­sons gov­ern­ments and in­di­vid­u­als get ac­claimed, ei­ther they’re do­ing their jobs well or no one else cares enough to run for of­fice. So what is the cause in this in­stance?

It would ap­pear to be a mix of both or nei­ther, de­pend­ing on whom you talk to.

TC Com­mu­nity News­pa­pers cer­tainly get their share of calls and let­ters from read­ers, who are both pas­sion­ate about their com­mu­ni­ties and want to see things changed. But now that an elec­tion is upon us where are those peo­ple?

Some are run­ning for of­fice, but most would sim­ply pre­fer to com­plain than make the ef­fort to af­fect change.

There’s an­other ar­gu­ment it’s the process in the larger com­mu­ni­ties that can in­hibit in­di­vid­u­als from run­ning for some po­si­tions such as mayor.

In Grand Falls-Wind­sor for ex­am­ple, if an in­cum­bent coun­cil­lor wanted to run it’s an all-or-noth­ing ven­ture. They would have to run for mayor, not coun­cil and if they lose they’re out of the game en­tirely, at least un­til the next elec­tion.

This is the same in other medium-sized com­mu­ni­ties across the prov­ince, and cer­tainly can pre­vent an am­bi­tious coun­cil­lor from mak­ing the jump.

And can com­mu­ni­ties such as Grand Falls-Wind­sor or Bishop’s Falls jus­tify the ad­di­tional cost and ef­fort nec­es­sary for this sep­a­rate race?

It’s cer­tainly needed in com­mu­ni­ties such as St. John’s, Mount Pearl or Par­adise, with their much larger pop­u­la­tions but maybe it’s time to go back to the way it used to be done, and still is done in most com­mu­ni­ties.

Ev­ery­one runs for coun­cil and the one with the most votes be­comes mayor, if they want it. If not, coun­cil­lors vote among them­selves.

This way it as­sures the per­son the com­mu­nity sup­ports most be­comes mayor, not just the only one will­ing to take the risk.

When a po­si­tion such as mayor is un­con­tested, it’s a fail­ure of the demo­cratic process and there’s no one to blame but us.

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