It’s called electioneering – not auctioneering

in Featured/NL Election 2011/View From The Mainland by

Well, another provincial election and the same corruption of democracy is flowing in the streets again.

We all know it, we all see it. We all read the Party (in French I think it’s soiree) platforms to see what goodies are in it for our town/region/special interest group. The Parties jostle with each other to see who can show us whose package is bigger while pretending to be different from each other. While each group does pander to our special cliques in society, they all fundamentally do the same thing in this province.

They all try to buy our vote.

As far as I can see from a Labrador perspective (which is a mighty fine ways under our big skies!) none of the Parties are truly different. A St. John’s Party offers up some bones, we elect people based on the bones (and some chest pounding about how they’ll be the best darn MHA ever) and off they go to toe the greasy Party line trailing from the pork barrel. Lots of hands out after the election b’ys, lots of planks to pay for, and we’re just a ‘minute portion’ of the province up here.

The vision should be what guides us there. The goodies are the means to achieve those objectives on the way.

I have to hand it to them, they’ve trained us to be excellent children: dangling the goodies we want, but we haven’t the slightest inkling of why we should have them. I mean that in a broad sense, or should I say, a visionary sense.

Of course we want our roads paved, and our ferries large and fast. Of course we want green electricity. Of course we want jobs.

But come on people, we have to know how it all fits into a bigger picture. We have to know what the end goal is. The vision should be what guides us there. The goodies are the means to achieve those objectives on the way.

A Labrador Perspective

For those of us who are blessed to call ourselves Labradorians, we feel this much deeper to the core. We see the barges of ore leave Voiseys Bay to supply many more outside people with higher paying jobs. We remember the days when our harbours were filled bank-to-bank with your schooners. We still see the marginally processed fish practically taken from the waters and shipped off with little local, and no secondary, processing.

We see the trains loaded with iron ore to supply many more outside people with higher paying jobs. We see the power lines running over our heads to smelt that ore, at rates cheaper than we can offer at home. Now we may see more power go to the island, to smelt the ore that leaves here!

In all of this we are told that it costs too much to provide services and programs in Labrador – we have too small of a population. Would it not make a thread of logic to save billions in infrastructure, and to increase Labrador industry by doing these things right here? Sorry, Long Harbour. No offense.

We’re simply left with fewer, lower-paying jobs, dammed rivers, and dirty holes in the ground.

This is the cost of not following a vision, and of not demanding a vision. And it goes for every region in the province.

But the very worst of the quadrennial (mis)spend-a-thon is that we don’t just put up with the promises – we demand them! We demand to know from our poor candidates what’s in it for us? We are selling our vote to the craziest [yet still within the realm of plausible] Party plank promises. Hey believe me, I’ve heard it right on some of your doorsteps.

This is the cost of not following a vision, and of not demanding a vision.

Then after 2-3 terms of office people realize they aren’t getting all the goodies they wanted from one Party and (up)boot the beggars out for more promises by another.

Let’s take a quick example – the ‘Lower Churchill’. Where’s the vision? Why are we doing it? Is it to replace Holyrood? To supply power to Long Harbour? We could dam the Exploits cheaper, or we could put a smelter in Labrador. Mega-project jobs? I think it would be cheaper to do something else – no? To make money? For every argument on either side of any of these debates, reasons are rhymed off why that side is correct. And guess what, they’re all correct because we just don’t know what the vision is.

A vision is more than a little book of promises

I can practically feel my ears burning as those of you who are Party faithful are reading this and saying “Well our Party has a vision, our leader has a vision!” By all means share it, and don’t tell me it’s in your ( Red / Blue / Orange ) Book. I can read.

Let’s remember we are electing legislators – law makers – not infrastructure managers. Not people who go out to St John’s to get some stuff for you. If that were the case, why bother with democracy at all?

I despise hearing that we have to elect someone on the government side to get something done for (y)our region.

That implies you’re being punished for not voting correctly, for believing in the wrong thing(s). Though, I guess, it does happen – take a drive from Red Bay to Corner Brook some day. Boy, some nice pavement on the “government side”.

Though I suppose we can’t blame those poor little MHAs, they’re just doing what the system tells them to do. They’re just doing what they have to do so their region gets what it needs, or thinks it needs. The Party, and its members, are catering to the lowest common denominator.

And the lowest common denominator is you.

If you, me, and everyone else demanded vision and demanded to know why we are choosing to head in a certain direction, then boy, wouldn’t we really have a great Newfoundland? Labrador?

Democracy isn’t just voting every four years. Democracy is a constant exercise of expressing yourself…

The buying, and selling, of our votes expresses the basest form of corrupt democracy. We find this in developing countries all over the world. Democracy isn’t just voting every four years. Democracy is a constant exercise of expressing yourself, and when we all do it, it expresses our societ(y)(ies). Tell the proverbial them what your vision is.

So on Election Day, and every day after, demand to know what the vision is. Support the Party or candidate with the vision that matches closest to how you feel, deep down in those cockles of yours – whether it be left, right, separatist, Newfoundlander or Labradorian, or even Labradorian separatist.

And, when the time comes, withdraw that support when they betray that vision.

Otherwise, you can keep asking why your town doesn’t get its auditorium/hospital/firetruck/pavement. Or why Labrador is still a treasure trove, or why there’s no jobs and all the young people keep moving away.

Want vision? Open your eyes mouth.