Winning could be losing

Posted 11.02.13

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In Quebec, The Pontiac-Aylmer Liberals have picked their new flag-bearer, André Fortin.

About half the eligible party members bothered to vote. What does that say about the quality of the party's base? Many of those members would have joined or renewed solely in order to vote for the likely next MNA. They didn't vote.

In other countries and times, a disinterested population, coupled with some national decline or crisis, opens the door for The Strong Man to step in. A dictator.

The dynamics are alarming. The more we verbally carpet-bomb 'government,' the political process, and all politicians, the wider we open the door for some populist 'savior; to step in, given a crisis. Crisis materialize often. The 2007 financial crash was one we are still struggling to overcome.

This recent vote by the party stalwarts also points to another problem, which can also add to the disintegration of the political process: lack of transparency.

True, this was a vote only for party members. Each party elects its nominee to run. Why do all the parties, not just the Liberals, keep this most basic election so far under the radar? Most non-party members did not even know this vote was taking place. There was none of the very public campaigning we see in the city election. There were no flyers, lawn and street signs, newspaper ads, even very few media interviews or commentaries. And no debates? Why?

Any secrecy feeds misperceptions. If this election was a near-secret, the public wonders what was going on behind the scenes with no media exposure. Party members seem unconcerned. They are concerned, it seems, only with getting their candidate chosen. Winning is their game.

Yet this was the opportunity to attract more party members, to involve more of the public in the political process. It was one more lost opportunity to prove that political parties are beneficial, not manipulative.

Mr. Fortin is an excellent candidate. The manner in which his party conducted his selection means he has an even greater job facing him -- winning the trust (as well as votes) of the public. It didn't have to be this way.


Copyright © 2013 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/11.13