Before you vote, consider this
I would never tell you who to vote for.
But in the upcoming provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador, can I at least make a suggestion about how you might decide to make your pick?
Even if you think your district might get more if you have a government member (so you have to consult the victory tea leaves to see which party to pick), could you put that aside this time and vote for whatever candidate is best suited for the job?
What I’m saying is don’t vote for the Liberals or the Conservatives or the NDP just because of the party — vote for the candidate with the best skills and the most knowledge.
Because we need that more than ever before.
I can understand supporting particular party policies — but when it comes to platforms, truth be told, the parties have more in common than anything else. I’ve said it before: the main three parties in this province can be described as left, lefter and leftist. Perhaps that’s because we’re a relatively poor province and because so many voters depend in one way or another on government help.
But even if you’re someone who usually votes for the party, please don’t vote along policy lines if it means electing a partyapproved benchwarmer over someone who’s demonstrably more capable.
This has been pretty much a paint-by-numbers, tried-andtrue election, at least so far.
For every campaign, there’s got to be a token trip to Labrador — standing on a huge mining truck is always good for a snap. (I always wonder why that one quick trip is acceptable as political recognition to Labradorians.)
You’ve got to get out Twitter pictures of candidates and volunteers doing candidate and volunteering things — signing nomination papers, loading signs in pickups, jumping up and down in the team colours on a street corner somewhere.
You have to trundle out the party policy book, perhaps the party song. If nothing else, the policy book lets candidates deflect questions by saying “it’s in our platform,” which, of course, should not be confused with, “we’re actually going to do that thing.”
Right now, there’s very little about the campaigns to inspire; it’s an election that’s moving as slowly as the grass is trying to green.
Added to that is the problem that almost everything you hear about the respective parties will be on a “macro” basis — Party X would do this, while Party Y will do this. Given the leader-centric coverage of campaigns, about the only time your local candidate will come into play is when they are onscreen as part of the backdrop for the Great Leader’s Humble Journey Across This Great Province. “It’s Wednesday, so you must be ... you must be ... (checks notes) Frank.”
It’s bad enough that the leaders already seem like they’re going to be handing out pretty dry, careful fare — it’s worse that you’ll hear much less about the individual candidates in your district, unless they manage to make some kind of massive and embarrassing error in the next few weeks.
But it’s your local candidate that you’ll be voting for.
And this time around, more than ever, we need people smart enough and dedicated enough to stand up, even if it ends up they may have to stand up against their own party. We need thoughtful, careful politicians with the ability to handle complex issues, while at the same time looking far beyond the next four years and their own personal chances at re-election.
We were, not that long ago, handed a huge fiscal bounty, which we have very successfully blown right through, leaving us, and likely the next few generations, in a huge fiscal hole.
We have to have the best possible MHAs to stop digging the hole deeper and piling more expensive wood on the fire for political gain.
You don’t have to pick a government.
You don’t get to pick a government.
But you have a chance to materially improve the House of Assembly by making the right, careful choice in your own district.
“This has been pretty much a paint-by-numbers, tried-and-true election, at least so far.”
Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wanger[email protected]gram.com — Twitter: @wangersky.
Russell Wangersky Eastern Passages