Monthly Archives: October 2008

Independents clog up political debate – Concordia prof says

It’s always been clear that the parties don’t like independent candidates.

S. 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees Canadians the right to run in elections.

Professor Brooke Jeffrey of Concordia University is quoted as saying that it should be made harder for Independent candidates to run – arguing that Independents clog up the political debate. (Dr. Jeffrey is a frequent commentator on political issues – as is demonstrated  here.)

What follows is an excerpt from the article:

“But Brooke Jeffrey, an associate professor of political science at Concordia University and an expert on political parties, says it should be harder for independent candidates to run in elections, since they often run to highlight or promote single issues.

“If you look at the nature of independent candidates associated with no party over time and the issues they raise, probably there are way better venues for them to raise it,” she said. “But maybe they wouldn’t get the media coverage they inevitably get by participating in these kinds of debates.”

Jeffrey ran as a Liberal candidate in the British Columbia riding of Okanagan-Shuswap in the 1993 federal election. While she supports political parties, whether they are mainstream or fringe (such as the Marxist-Leninist Party), she is less supportive of independents who she says often run for publicity they inevitably get and clog up the debate in the process.”

The complete article is:

http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=b17939df-f5b5-4396-881c-6295669c2e77&p=2

“Top vote-getters aren’t only winners
Fringe candidates know they don’t have a chance of getting elected, but most expect increased visibility of being on ballot to bring attention to issues near and dear to their hearts
SIKANDER HASHMI
Freelance

Looking at election signs in the downtown Westmount – Ville Marie riding, it’s clear there are at least five parties vying for your vote. But on election day, the list on the ballot will be almost twice as long.

There are nine confirmed candidates in the riding, but if the previous general election in 2006 is any indication, the four “other” candidates could end up with less than one per cent of total votes cast – collectively.

Yet, such stark odds, not to mention two previous defeats with a combined vote count of 217, haven’t discouraged Bill Sloan from running in next week’s election as one of four Montreal-area candidates for the Communist Party of Canada.

The reason: he’s just doing it to bring a couple of issues on to the street, literally.

“I picked this riding because I wanted posters on Ste. Catherine St.,” said Sloan, an immigration lawyer. He put up 100 posters voicing disapproval for the Afghan war and Canadian support for “apartheid” Israel, the latter of which have mostly been torn down. He doesn’t have time to campaign nor does he have high hopes for election night.

“I don’t think anyone in my party thinks we’re going to get elected,” he said. “None of us are foolish … we’re running because we want to put forward certain ideas.”

Meanwhile, artist Judith Vienneau is also running in the riding and she too knows she won’t win. The visibility she gets from being a candidate and the opportunity to take part in the political discourse is worth the $1,000 her candidacy has cost her so far along with the long hours spent on making commercials for her party, neorhino.ca.

Her blog receives up to 12,000 visits daily, especially after she sends out updates on her email list. And although her party, the successor to the Rhinoceros Party of Canada, is supposed to be a joke, Vienneau believes it allows disenfranchised voters take part in the political process by giving them an alternative that resonates with them.

“If 40 per cent of the population doesn’t vote, it means it’s a problem of identification.,” she said. “They don’t recognize their identity in mainstream politicians.”

Only five kilometres to the north, independent candidate Mahmood Raza Baig who ran unsuccessfully thrice before, is aiming to highlight issues facing new immigrants in his Papineau riding. Winning the seat is not his priority.

“Actually, I am the winner … the winners are always those people who raise real issues,” he said. “I am not looking at the badges of Member of Parliament right now.”

Baig, a journalist who immigrated from Pakistan 11 years ago, has racked up $2,000 in campaign costs on his credit card. He and some volunteers have put up signs and are giving out business cards door-to-door.

He usually receives a positive response, but some immigrants, especially from countries where authorities and politicians are feared, are afraid to vote for him out of fear of retribution.

“They say perhaps if they vote for me, the Conservatives, Liberals or other parties will get angry at them.”

He explains the concept of a secret ballot and tries to take them in his confidence.

Knocking on doors is something Sloan also did, before launching his campaign. Like all candidates, he needed 100 signatures in order to successfully file his nomination papers with Elections Canada.

“It’s a lot of work to get all the signatures,” he said, noting candidates for major parties can get all the needed signatures in one nomination meeting.

Baig, who lacks the support of a party, is also critical of the system, which he says should allocate space in newspapers for lesser-known candidates and ensure they aren’t left out of debates.

But Brooke Jeffrey, an associate professor of political science at Concordia University and an expert on political parties, says it should be harder for independent candidates to run in elections, since they often run to highlight or promote single issues.

“If you look at the nature of independent candidates associated with no party over time and the issues they raise, probably there are way better venues for them to raise it,” she said. “But maybe they wouldn’t get the media coverage they inevitably get by participating in these kinds of debates.”

Jeffrey ran as a Liberal candidate in the British Columbia riding of Okanagan-Shuswap in the 1993 federal election. While she supports political parties, whether they are mainstream or fringe (such as the Marxist-Leninist Party), she is less supportive of independents who she says often run for publicity they inevitably get and clog up the debate in the process.

Baig meanwhile continues his struggle, hoping for a better showing than the 77 votes he got last time in Outremont.

“I successfully raised the voice of my people,” he said. “Seventy-seven votes is my sacrifice. I sacrifice my time, my money.”

Sloan, the Communist Party candidate, says the exercise would be fun and worth it – if only he had time and his signs had been left alone.”

Independent in Montreal …

Top vote-getters aren’t only winners

Fringe candidates know they don’t have a chance of getting elected, but most expect increased visibility of being on ballot to bring attention to issues near and dear to their hearts

SIKANDER HASHMI, Freelance

Published: Thursday, October 09

Looking at election signs in the downtown Westmount – Ville Marie riding, it’s clear there are at least five parties vying for your vote. But on election day, the list on the ballot will be almost twice as long.

There are nine confirmed candidates in the riding, but if the previous general election in 2006 is any indication, the four “other” candidates could end up with less than one per cent of total votes cast – collectively.

To read the complete article:

http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=b17939df-f5b5-4396-881c-6295669c2e77

Independent candidate wants to give Welland residents a voice

Nicole Montreuil writes about Jody Di Bartolomeo in Welland:

“In 2006, he ran on the New Democratic Party ticket and came in second, netting 30.7 per cent of the vote and beating Conservative candidate Mel Grunstein.

Then, he said, he watched as NDP leader Jack Layton bought into the multi-national trade deals costing Canadian jobs, turning his back on what Di Bartolomeo called traditional NDP values in the process.

So by the time the local riding association declared Malcolm Allen their choice for the 2008 race, Di Bartolomeo had already begun to pull away from the party.

Instead, he threw his hat in the race as an independent candidate.

He hasn’t had much time to campaign so far–he hasn’t taken time off work because the philosophy professor has classes to teach–but through debates and meeting residents, he’s heard the same messages repeatedly.

Not only do Welland voters remember him from last election, they’re concerned about the economy”

To read the complete article:

http://www.thoroldedition.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1240652

Independent John Richardson appears in Toronto Danforth Debate

On the evening of October 7, Toronto Danforth held it’s “All Candidates Less Layton” debate. Independent John Richardson appeared, participated and spread the “Declaration of Independence“. )Independents often have difficulty appearing in “all candidates” debates.)

On report on the debate is at:

http://insidetorontovotes.ca/2008/10/09/six-candidates-debate-the-issues-in-toronto-danforth/

According to the following commentator:
“As it turned out, the dominant voice in the debate was 52-year-old John Richardson, whose jaded Beantown dialect would surely liven up a future mayoral contest.”

Read the complete article here:

http://www.eyeweekly.com/blog/scrollingeye/article/41627

Grass roots bars Peter Tabuns from Toronto Danforth Debate

Layton “no-show” ignites democratic response!

John Richardson, Independent candidate for Toronto Danforth appeared in what was supposed to have been an “All Candidates” debate.

Imagine a situation where a non-candidate might appear in a “Candidate’s Debate” and an actual candidate might be barred from that “Candidate’s Debate”. That is what almost happened on October 7, 2008 in the NDP stronghold of Toronto Danforth.

The debate got off to a slow start for two reasons:

1. Incumbent and NDP Leader Jack Layton didn’t appear. He dispatched NDP MPP, Peter Taubuns (who is NOT a candidate in Toronto Danforth), to appear in his place. The organizers of the debate (who reportedly had accepted Mr. Taubuns in advance), and moderator Wayne Walder worked hard to facilitate Mr. Taubun’s participation.

2. Canadian Action Party Candidate, Bahman Yazdanfar, who IS a candidate in Toronto Danforth was initially not allowed to appear in the debate (apparently there was an issue as to whether he had confirmed his participation).

Hence, the start of the debate was delayed. What followed was a fantastic exercise in “grass roots” democracy.  It unfolded as follows:

Moderator Wayne Walder explained to the crowd that there was to be a vote from the crowd on two issues:

First, whether Mr. Taubuns, the non-candidate (appropriately decked out in his NDP button) would be allowed to appear.

Mr. Walder put the Taubuns vote to the people, (noting that he personally hoped that they would allow Taubuns to appear). The vote was overwhelmingly against Mr. Taubun’s participation. Surprisingly, the organizers and Mr. Walder decided to ask the crowd to vote again. (This is not made clear by the City TV video). Once again, the vote was overwhelmingly against the participation of Mr. Taubuns. At this point, Mr. Taubuns left the building.

Second, whether Mr. Yazdandar, the actual candidate (the Canadian Action Party) would be allowed to appear. Mr. Walder put the Yazandar vote to the crowd (without expressing his hope that Mr. Yanzandar be allowed to appear). The crowd voted in favour of Mr. Yanzandar.  He appeared in the debate.

For video and a reporting from City TV see:

http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_27728.aspx
The “All” candidates debate of October 7 was a clear victory of “grass roots” democracy over party interests!

Garth Turner – An Independent in form but not in substance

4. Elected MPs Kicked Out Of Their Parties Who Rather Than Becoming Independents – Voted Against Their Party By Crossing The Floor – A Betrayal Of Conscience And Of The Voters Who Elected Them

Both Bill Casey and Garth Turner were ejected from the Conservative Party. Bill Casey had the conscience and principle to sit as an Independent.  Garth Turner betrayed the voters who elected him and joined the Liberal Party.

For Bill Casey it was about principle.

For Garth Turner it may have been about principle, but the principle was not loyalty to his constituents. At a minimum, he should have asked their permission to become (he was elected as a Conservative) a Liberal.
As Groucho Mark once said:

“If you don’t like my principles, I have others.”

Perhaps, the governing principle is:

“It’s about Garth.”

Garth Turner – A man of great promise but greater disappointment

Garth explained his decision in the following blog entry. This entry is worth reading because it gives insight into the difficulty of existing as an indpendent.
http://www.garth.ca/weblog/2007/08/03/the-war-on-independence

See also:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/02/06/turner-liberals.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/cdngovernment/crossing.html

Bill Casey enjoys independence

Joanna Smith of the Toronto Star has written a fascinating article about Bill Casey. This article appeared in the Star on Monday October 6. The article prompted the following comments:

“If every candidate we elected followed Mr. Casey’s example and voted for what was best for his constituents, we might actually have a true democracy in this country. There is something wrong with a system that gives a majority to anybody when more than 50% of the voters don’t want that person. We need a better electoral system and candidates with guts. The political leaders can’t fire everybody. It’s time to stop voting the “party line” and do what the electorate elected their candidates to do.”

“Though I live in Ontario, I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with Mr. Casey several times. He is the kind of personal all Parties should seek as a candidate. He represents his constituents in all matters.”

Excerpts from the Star article include:

“Casey said he has often been able to do more for his riding as an Independent than he could have when he was in the party – particularly when it comes time to vote.

He said party members generally get a list with directions on how to vote for each bill that comes through the House of Commons.

“When I vote, I have to analyze every single one. Is this motion or is this bill good for my constituents? Is it good for my province? And I just make a decision,” he said, adding he has supported motions from all four major parties.

“I don’t care where it comes from. If it’s good for my riding, I vote for it.”

He said one day, another MP showed him the voting list for his party – which Casey would not identify – and instead of directing members to vote yes or no, it just said “Follow the leader.”

“I thought that was quite telling,” he said.

Casey said individual voices were particularly restrained in the latest Tory caucus – more so than under previous Conservative leaders.

“In my first seven caucuses we had great arguments. We talked about things like GST, free trade, abortion, gun registries and things like that and they were hashed out in caucus, but in this caucus decisions are made,” Casey said.”

To read the complete article see:

http://www.thestar.com/article/512298

Independent candidate appears in debate on Goldhawk Live

Last week a post on this blog and on Elections Media described a situation where “Independent candidates were invited to NOT participate in a debate.

On Friday night October 3, John Richardson, Independent Candidate for Toronto Danforth appeared in the main debate on Goldhawk. It is hoped that this is the beginning of a new recogntion of independent candidates.

John Richardson will also appear in the live debate for Toronto Danforth which is to be held on Tuesday October 7.

Liberal ousted in Winnipeg – will remain as independent

The pattern continues. Another party candidate has been dumped.

This is not about dissent. This is not about not agreeing with party policy. This is about writing something a somebody doesn’t happen to like.  I have no particular thoughts on the content of what Ms. Hughes wrote. This is about party interference with local candidates! At the rate this is going, Canada is going to end up with Candidates that:

– think nothing

– hear nothing

– see nothing

– say nothing

and are nothing.

See no evil! Hear no evil! Speak no evil!

The better approach would be to dump Dion.  I predict that the political career of Ms. Hughes will last longer than the career of the current Liberal leader.

Here is an interesting comment on this episode:

“This whole thing is preposterous. As a former Winnipegger, I’ve read Hughes’s columns for many years, and I know that Hughes is not at all anti-semitic. In fact, she has worked all her life for social justice causes. As for her writing about  conspiracy theories — hello? She’s a journalist and follows stories that may be interesting to her readers. Writing about it doesn’t necessarily mean she endorses it. This is political correctness run amok, and it’s a shame that the Liberals have run scared. They turfed a dedicated and inspired candidate who could have contributed so much to our government.”

“Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg election candidate who was turfed by the Liberal party says she’s staying on the ballot.

Lesley Hughes says she’s essentially running as an Independent in the Oct. 14 federal vote after being fired by the Liberals for a column she wrote years ago.

In the column, Ms. Hughes suggested Israeli businesses in the World Trade Center had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Ms. Hughes says she was slandered by both Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper when the column came to light.”

For the full text and comments see:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081002.welxnhughes1002/BNStory/Front

For Toronto Star coverage:

http://www.thestar.com/FederalElection/article/506806

Winnipeg Sun:

http://www.winnipegsun.com/canadavotes/news/2008/10/02/6954726.html

National Post (which confirms that this is all about the party):

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/09/26/jonathan-kay-why-the-lesley-hughes-scandal-may-destroy-st-233-phane-dion-s-liberals.aspx

Here is a thoughtful perspective on this issue:

http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=862414&p=1