Friday, September 29, 2006

D is for dumb, not democratic

I don't get all the Newfoundland news sitting here in my Arctic home, so it's entirely possible there was a more offensively stupid news story out of the province today than this one. However, it would be a challenge, because this is pretty moronic.

It seems that NDP leader Jack Harris has finally ended his long good-bye and stepped down as the MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi. Quite frankly, I'm surprised that Premier Danny Williams didn't call the election today. But I imagine people won't have to wait too long.

But here's the thing, Harris is asking the other two political parties to not run a candidate against new leader Lorraine Michael. The Liberals have agreed. The Conservatives have not.

Now, here's the thing I've been struggling with ever since I read this story and might account for the headache I currently possess - which group is stupider? The NDP for asking that no one run against Michael or the Liberals for agreeing to it?

I honestly don't know, it's a bit of a stumper.

I kind of like Jack, so this is really pissing me off. It's called a democracy, Jack. You don't get to decide that there is only one choice in an election for people. Asking the other two parties to not run anyone is denying people their democratic rights. Maybe they don't want to vote NDP and if they don't, they should have an option. Otherwise, it's not much of a democracy, is it?

As for the Liberals, my only hope is that they surveyed the landscape and couldn't find a willing victim to be slaughtered in the Conservative-NDP crossfire, so they're trying to salvage some kind of high road out of the whole mess. Still, saying they're not running someone to give Michael a chance is just annoying me. And if they can't find anyone to run then the party is in pretty sad shape with a year until the election.

The Conservatives, of course, we're never going to go for it. Thank god for that. It's a bad idea to have one party control all the seats in St. John's, which is going to happen if they take Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi from the NDP. I think you need a voice that is not part of the ruling party in the city so that people can have someone to talk to or complain to when things are going wrong.

But if this is the kind of foolishness the NDP are getting up to already, if they're that desperate and their new leader things this is a good idea, that she should get a pass in an election rather than facing the voters, well, to hell with them. You're better off with nothing but Conservatives then a party pulling that kind of stunt.

Just a suggestion to the NDP - you might want to find another word to replace "Democratic" in your party's name. I'm not sure you really understand the meaning of the word.


líam said...

Isn't it common practice for the major parties to not run candidates against the other's leader during a by-election, both federally and provincially?

Jason said...

I've seen it happen from time to time but its not usually done by the NDP, the P usually stands for pious, obnoxiously so. Again the reason they seem to be going this route, is the new leader looks espcially weak for an NDP canidate

Cove Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cove Blogger said...

This practice, not running candidates against a party leader seeking a seat in a by-election, is less of a tradition than is sometimes suggested.

I could be wrong, but I think there has only been a single case in the past where a newly elected and seatless Newfoundland NDP leader has sought a seat in a by-election. That was when Peter Fenwick took the district of Menihek (Labrador West) from the Tories in 1984. I believe the Tories and Liberals both ran candidates in that by-election.

In recent years at the federal level, the NDP has run candidates against Federal Tory leader Joe Clarke in a by-election the Nova Scotia riding of Kings-Hants, CCRAP leader Stockwell Day in a by-election in the BC riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla and Prime Misery Harper when we was CCRAP leader and running in a by-election in the riding of Calgary Southwest.

Ed Hollett said...

Over time, there have been occasions when government parties have chosen not to contest a seat in order to get the leader into the House (to beat them up or expose weakenesses).

In other instances, as with Peckford, he was desperate to keep competition out so he fought every chance he could get.

The mystery for some people is why Williams was whining only a short while ago.

The answer is simple: He wants every seat, for one thing and is sensitive to anything that threatens his minor ambition. The other thing is that he whines and bitches like a schoolgirl every time everybody does to him what he habitually does to others. That just gave him a double reason to whine pathetically.

Liam O'Brien said...

Who cares whether slicing competition out of a by-election is "common practice" or not. It's just wrong and counter-productive.

What's worse, the Liberals are going along with it. I live in this riding. I think it's sad that my ballot might be affected by the political elite's attempt to use an old boys club trick to get a friend in there . . .

Ed - While I don't disagree that it made no sense for the Tories to complain (Ridgley was more guilty of this than Williams) about the NDP's pre-resignation campaigning, I'd like to know why you seem to think the main issue here is Danny Williams.

Liberal Leader Gerry Reid has just deferred to Jack and has proclaimed that there will be nobody to hold the Liberal banner in this riding. What sort of message is that sending to those who might have been inclined to vote Liberal in the riding?

If he's not going to do it this time, he might as well not do it in a general election.

towniebastard said...

I appreciate that this has been done before in different districts or ridings. I'm not sure if "tradition" is the right word for it or not. And regardless, if it is a tradition, it's a pretty shitty one. Yes, party leaders often win these races in a walk, but if someone still runs to run carrying the party's banner, then they should run.

This is not so much about Williams wanting every seat in the province. A byelection loss in St. John's a year before an election might expose some weakness in the armor. He doesn't want to give the other parties hope. That's why he wants this seat.

And Liam, "political elite?" Jesus man. That's a bit thick, isn't it?

It was a crappy tradition that shouldn't have gone on in the first place. The NDP, who are supposed to be above such things that the Liberalsn and PCs do in the first place, should be ashamed they asked. And the Liberals should be ashamed they agreed.

I'm not sure if any of the three parties come out smelling like roses in this farce, but if there is one, it's the Conservatives. At least they're honest about it...they want to win the seat.

vickyth said...

The thing that (perhaps) is being forgotten in this situation is that many people who voted for Harris voted for *him*, with his party only coming second. In fact, I have a couple of friends who voted for him *despite* his party. I suspect that his retirement signals the end of the NDP in St. John's. The only way Michaels is going to win at all is if no one else runs. Personally, I'd rather not vote at all than be effectively forced into my selection of a candidate. Not that it's an issue, as I don't live in the district.....

Liam O'Brien said...

Craig, forgive my Kelland-Dyeresque theatrics. . .

I call it the "political elite," well, because it just seems like the group of individuals setting the political stage in this province is getting smaller and smaller.

To turn it on its head, the number of distinct policy ideas and viewpoints in NL is, if this is even possible, shrinking. . . from few to almost just one viewpoint. . .

Whatever is going on, It's troubling to me.

Anonymous said...

Interesting conversation. Peckford did not allow Wells to take Winsor-Buchans uncontested, Grimes did not allow William's to enter the House uncontested.

The seat William's ran for was a liberal seat that was vacated when Paul Dicks parachuted away from the Provincial Liberal Caucus following his failed bid for leader.

The tradition of not running a candidate is a fairytale.

The Liberals have placed second in this district and its pre-1996 form in all but one general election. For a St. John's seat it has a good liberal base. Just have a look at the last federal election and one can easily see Paul Antle's Federal Liberal Campaign did very well in the area covered by this provincial district.

Perhaps this is pure strategic thinking by the opposition parties. They realize that Jack's vote is mostly a Harris vote not transferable to any old NDPer that follows after him. They also realize that in the last Provincial election folks wanted to change the government so they bucked the traditional NDP, LIberal and distant third scenario for a NDP, PC (where the hell is Ray)liberal scenario. In fact if the Liberal vote had not gone to Harris the seat would have gone conservative in the last general election.

I see this as a continuation of the last provincial campaign where liberals quietly robbed the seat from the PC Juggernaut.

I do not like it. I do not like it all.

Mr. Spog said...

If I set up my own party, can I have one free uncontested seat in the House of Assembly too?

...The NDP has no right to seats. There is nothing inevitable about a three-party system. Arguably we would be better off with a two-party one.

Anonymous said...

While it is true that it rarely happens, it is often asked for. It really is a pretty minor matter. As for the Liberals not running, I am sure that they knew that they didn't stand a chance, making a virtue of necessity just makes sense.

As for Michael's chances, I am a strong NDP supporter and would be voting for her if I were home, but I don't see much of a chance at all. Jerome Kennedy looks like a strong candidate, at least on paper. Williams has played the Ottawa card at just the right time (coincidence? I don't think so). And with the 'arts community' kissing William's ass so hard that he is going to have a hickey in places he will have to come up with a good story for Maureen.