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Thousands of people won’t vote in Thursday’s election, and you can’t blame them — not for the result, and not for deciding to not cast a ballot.
We would be wise to dispense with the nonsense that voting is every citizen’s sacred duty. Sometimes — nay, often — not voting is a rational and justified political choice.
Exhibit A: Dwight Ball and Ches Crosbie.
Choose between them if you feel you must, but don’t denigrate or criticize those who say being forced to pick one or the other is like a con game that citizens cannot possibly win.
It is like being asked, “Which eye do you want me to poke out?”
A common mistake is to equate not voting with apathy. Perhaps it is, sometimes. But just as likely, it is a reasonable decision, with a myriad of motivations: the knowledge that nothing will change; none of the candidates/parties deserve a vote; casting a ballot is participating in the charade that the people, rather than politicians, have power.
Also, in the black humour department, there is the longstanding anarchist adage: “No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.”
Some devout democrats might object to the “charade” reference a couple of sentences ago.
Exhibit B: one of the Liberal party’s campaign promises is to get rid of the 15 per cent sales tax on insurance.
Who implemented the 15 per cent sales tax on insurance in the first place? Why, the Liberal party did, of course.
That kind of manipulation is an insult to democracy — never mind the people who won’t vote.
Exhibit C: Class-action Crosbie wants you to forget, or ignore, that it was the Progressive Conservative party that foisted the doomed Muskrat Falls project onto the province (albeit with the public’s approval).
The suggestion is circulating on social media that voters can’t blame Crosbie or the current PCs for Muskrat Falls, because they weren’t the people — with a few exceptions — who did it. This assertion is more evidence that social media causes brain damage.
Perhaps, in this notion of the world, Crosbie was a card-carrying Liberal or NDPer prior to deciding to run for the Tory leadership last year. Even so, you have to wonder why Crosbie didn’t utter a public peep or ask a single question when Danny was doing his dam deed.
And yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as organizational responsibility. Changing the individuals at the helm does not negate this.
The next time you visit one of your many friends or relatives who have moved to Alberta, ask a few Albertans why they still loathe Liberals, four decades after Pierre Trudeau’s hated national energy program.
(Despite their general looniness, Albertans still had the good sense in their recent provincial election to give a mere one per cent of the popular vote to the Liberal party.)
On Thursday, the 26 districts with more than two candidates will indicate whether Newfoundlanders are finally fed up with 70 years of alternating Liberals and Tories, and Tories and Liberals, and with trading one colour of incompetence for another.
In those 26 districts, the level of support — or lack of it — for independent candidates, NDP candidates, and Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance candidates will reveal whether Newfoundlanders want change or are satisfied with more of the same. According to recent polls, smart bettors are placing their money on the latter.
In the 14 districts that are strictly a Liberal vs. Tory race, spoiling the ballot becomes a legitimate option. It isn’t apathy, because you’ve taken the time to go vote.
The word “spoiling” is pejorative. Think of it instead as using your ballot. You can write on it, “None of the above,” as some people have said they plan to do. You can write, “No,” or, “Please give us better candidates.”
Unfortunately, it is a message for your own satisfaction, because the winning party, typically, won’t care a whit.
Try not to be demoralized by the sign above the door at the polling place: “Abandon all hope, b’ys, who enter here.”
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at email@example.com.