By Emir Andrews
In Brian Jones’ Sept. 27 column, he refers to the voters of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s as the “province’s smartest voters.” But he misses some obvious points.
He says that the last three councils were completely turfed because the town was dissatisfied with their performance. Candidates got elected on “assurances they will preserve and protect the town’s rural nature.”
The 2001-05 council may well have been voted out of office for that reason. I remember a lot of town residents being disgusted with their performance — disgusted enough that an entirely new group of brand new people ran for council and were elected in 2005. The problem with Jones’ statement with respect to that 2005-09 council is that, based on the data I have seen, they tried very hard to do exactly what Jones claims each of these councils was elected to do.
However, enough people apparently did not like the idea of retaining the town’s rural character that the 2005-09 council was voted out in an election that was particularly negative and unpleasant.
The 2009-13 council was rightly turfed for the reason that Jones pointed out. For example, the contacting of a group of developers in the Old Broad Cove Road area who already had approval for their projects and telling them that their approvals were withdrawn. They were to use much smaller sized lots, to be made possible by them paying to extend the water and sewer line over a rather long distance, probably involving a pumping station from the closest connection on Portugal Cove Road. Fortunately, the land owners and developers pushed back and stopped this attempt by council at dense urban-style development.
Jones refers to the 2005-09 council as “underperforming” but never looks at why.
The 2009-13 council truly was underachieving and dysfunctional, as witnessed by the legal bills racked up during those four years and provincial moneys left unspent.
It seems rather far-fetched to make statements about Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s voters being the smartest when fewer have voted in each election from 2005 to 2013. On just what is the statement based? Does he mean the approximately 42 per cent who voted are the smartest voters in the province, or does that statement include all the eligible voters, whether they voted or not? As Jones lives in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, I would ask in which category he falls?
He refers to councils as follows: “moments after candidates become council members, the machinery starts up to continue the task of laying waste to the landscape.” This is a misrepresentation of the track record of the 2005-09 council as I know it. The first thing they negotiated was the reduction of the numbers of houses proposed for Phase 1 of the then somewhat infamous “Murray’s Pond” development. Is that indicative of Jones’ statement? Maybe he should check his facts.
Jones completely ignores the negative and unpleasant nature of the 2009 election. What effect did that have on both voter turnout and how they voted? What I am referencing is signs like “My name is xxxx and I was screwed over by council” that went up on one of the main roads leading into town; and the trailer, moved to various locations around town — including just outside at least one of the polling stations on election day — which included pictures of all the then councillors with red lines drawn through the faces and a very offensive saying below each. One might easily guess it had some effect.
If Jones wants to consider how smart the voters of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s were in this election, maybe he should have looked at the accuracy of some of the flyers put out by candidates, including one who claimed to have been part of a decision that has yet to be made.
So, in summary, are these voters really smart? I would say no.
Are voters, decreasing in number (percentage wise) in each election, really the “smartest voters” in the province, or the victims of eight years with dysfunctional elements on both councils, with the result being that fewer and fewer voters have even cared enough to vote in each subsequent election.
Is that being smart or just plain apathetic?
Emir Andrews was a candidate in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s in this year’s municipal election.