Top News

EDITORIAL: Mammoth task

Graydon Pelley makes his pitch to potential voters at the Capital Hotel in St. John's on Saturday night.
Graydon Pelley made his pitch to potential voters at the Capital Hotel in St. John’s on Jan. 5. — Telegram file photo

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Newfoundland and Labrador provincial politics has never shown the flexibility to turn on a dime.

But a new party held an information session in St. John’s last week, arguing it’s time to make that turn anyway.

With only nine months to a provincial election, Graydon Pelley of the NL Alliance is arguing it’s time to overhaul this province’s entire electoral system, and bring in a government by consensus, rather than along party lines.

The ideas may be lofty, but practical problems may bring the nascent party and its idealistic platform back to Earth quickly.

His five basic points are to have free votes on everything in the House of Assembly, instead of voting along party lines; have meetings to establish consensus among all members of all parties; clean up behaviour in the House; open up jobs in the provincial government to a full interview process — no political appointees; and put in place recall legislation to allow voters to turf out legislators who aren’t serving the public’s needs. Finally, the names of the shareholders of any company that receives provincial funding would be released publicly.

The ideas may be lofty, but practical problems may bring the nascent party and its idealistic platform back to Earth quickly.

Remember, only about 25 people showed up at the organizing meeting on Saturday, hardly a groundswell of support. The party’s not even halfway to the 1,000 signatures it needs to come into official political existence.

This is also a new party from the ground up, meaning that it is not taking over the existing base of operations of an existing political machine; an entirely new organization has to be built, finances have to be found, and the party would have to jump through the regulatory hurdles of the province’s existing electoral legislation.

If, for any or all of those reasons, the new party ends up having no real presence in the 2019 provincial election, it faces four long years in the political wilderness. At this point, independent MHA Paul Lane has at least shown some interest in the party, but a party spending four years without a single seat in the House would be fighting obscurity as much as it was fighting anything else.

And that’s not the only set of circumstances stacked against what Pelley calls a populist government for the province.

Starting a party means facing all the problems of the already-established political system — everything from who asks questions in the House to who gets funding for research is tilted in favour of the government.

It’s easy to understand the frustrations that would make people want big change: the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have made themselves tired and poor choices, despite their own protestations, and the NDP has never broken free of its niche.

If you want change, it’s hard to figure out who you could possibly vote for.

Recent Stories