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Friday 14 June 2013

You Don't Have The Right

Occasionally a news article will get a rise out of me. Unlike yelling at the radio when ridiculous comments are made on the call in shows, yelling at the paper in my hand doesn't have the same level of satisfaction. And so here we are.

Yesterday I checked the mail and was delighted to find my most recent issue of the Municipal News. It is a quarterly paper printed and distributed by Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador and contains the usual updates and news stories relative to the municipal sector in NL. I've been reading it for 6 years or so now and you can get the digital copy over on the MNL website here.

In the most recent installment there is a cover story on electronic voting by Randy Simms. It's something I have an opinion about and as it turns out so does Randy. Reading through the piece I find that Randy is in favor of the idea and was hoping we might all have a go at it in the upcoming municipal elections in the fall. But alas, it is not to be this time around. The current Government has taken the unsurprisingly short sighted view that we're not ready for it just yet.

The article was generally informative and pretty well written but I actually had to pause in the middle of reading it to let out a few choice words that thankfully only my dog was close enough to hear. The offending paragraph contained a quote for the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Kevin O'Brien. Now to be upfront I'm not a big fan of "Farity O'Brien", as The Sir Robert Bond Papers like to call him. And I've heard him say some pretty darn silly and upsetting things, like the time he compared the departure of Danny Williams to the assignation of JFK. But this one really got my blood boiling. In reference to uninformed voters who might vote given an electronic ballot option he said:
"People who don't know what's going on, voting for people they don't know, is not appropriate"
So if I might take a moment to clarify that comment, it appears that he feels that not everyone has the right to vote. Now if I'm not mistaken the right to vote is accorded to every man and women of legal age and can show they are a resident of the district they wish to vote in. There are no tests to determine their intimate level of knowledge of the parties, the candidates or the issues at hand. One person, one vote.

But hey, he's only a Minister of our Government, if he doesn't believe in democracy then I guess it's no big deal. After all, if we did things his way and every voter had to know full details on the people running in an election and perhaps even their motivations for running, he might still be in private business and we might all be spared old Farity's version of democracy.


Thursday 13 June 2013

She Is The Premier After All

I have been very critical of the current Government headed up by Premier Kathy Dunderdale, and for good reason. As a Government they have made terrible decisions, passed damaging legislation and operated Government as though it was their private corporation. All reasons to be very critical and work damn hard to get them out of that position of power before they do even more damage.

The odd part about politics is that this Government which I despise is made up of good people who at least on some level feel they are doing the right thing. With rare exception the current Cabinet Members I have met and spent time with have been nice people. Most  of them got into politics to make a positive contribution to NL, some simply saw a free ride on Danny's coat tails to popularity, a salary and maybe even a pension. So if they are largely good people with what they feel is the right motivation it is imperative to separate the political criticisms from the personal attacks.

As an example I look at Minister of Education, Clyde Jackman. Like many Ministers he has changed departments over his many years in Government and as such I have had the opportunity to meet him more then once. I find Minister Jackman to be a very knowledgeable, thoughtful, and personable man. I have a great deal of respect for him and his abilities. So when I look at the ridiculous decision to amalgamate all the english school boards I will criticize the decision and the man for making/backing the decision but never on a personal level. In fact because I respect him I wonder if there's more to that decision then I know in order for him to endorse it. I don't think so but it does give me cause to pause.

The same logic applies to the Muskrat Falls project. I see it as a terrible idea that is both unnecessary and damaging to NL but yet sensible people made the decision to begin and continue this massive mistake. While Kathy did not initiate the project she has stood behind it (while standing next to Harper lol) and has continued to defend it and push it forward. Paddy Dally has asked why would people, politicians and bureaucrats alike, push for a project if it was so bad? I have a few theories but I only wish I knew the real answer, but there's no doubt that Dunderdale's credibility has been irreparably damaged because of this and many other issues over the last few months.

This is a woman with a very accomplished past even before she became Premier. I have no doubt she is a formidable person who has the faculties to be the Premier of a challenging province. These are the items that people should remember before throwing personal attacks her way. There's a difference between calling a person stupid and calling a decision stupid. Never has there been a person on earth who has never made a decision that they immediately know was the wrong one. It was a stupid decision but it doesn't make you a stupid person.

While this may be a simple point it is often lost in the word of political commentary, both for those who can hide behind their keyboard and for those under the bright House of Assembly lights. It is the path of a week debater to attack the person and unfortunately we see it far too often. From a political standpoint besides the optics of personal attacks, all they do is show that you have underestimated your opponent, a mistake in any encounter. In the end respect for others involved in a debate, discussion or the general political arena is a must. When you don't show respect for others it reflects badly on you, not on them. After all no matter how many bad decisions she has made, Kathy Dunderdale still deserves respect, she is the Premier after all.