Be­fore you vote, con­sider this

The Western Star - - EDITORIAL -

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.

Do it.

“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

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