“A good party man puts his party above himself and his country above his party.” (Winston Churchill)
(Registered parties of end of August,electoral district of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Ontario, in alphabetical order by official name)
Conservative Party Of Canada
Free Party Of Canada
Green Party Of Canada
Liberal Party Of Canada
New Democratic Party
People’s Party Of Canada
In last week’s column, a list of six candidates was submitted to the electors of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell: no specific advantage was given to anyone of the six; I could have added my own name to the list, had I registered to become a candidate, and would have been granted the same consideration as other candidates; as everyone else on that list, all candidates start the voting process with ZERO vote; and should my wife fast enough to be the first voter in GPR to cast her ballot, I would have taken the lead in the polls (assuming she had voted for me…)! So then, let’s consider this question: When the actual voting procedure starts, are all candidates really equal, is the process really fair? If you did your homework and evaluated all candidates according to criteria established by specialists to find the ideal MP, then ‘NO’, candidates are not all equal: some stand out by their personality, others by their experience, by their humanity, their wealth…I would probably stand out by my age (and wisdom since it is a factor of aging)! But let’s suppose they are all clones of one another, what differentiates them from one another? If you answer ‘the party’ they are affiliated to, which is the second element of our equation, you basically understand politics.
Political scientists agree that ‘When voters cast their ballot, are they choosing a candidate or a party? The right answer is probably both; electoral systems are used to apportion seats among the different parties that compete during an election and select the candidates that will be appointed as representatives; elections thus act as a mechanism for deciding the policies to be enacted among the options proposed by different parties and for conforming the representatives that will enact them. In addition, citizens also use their vote to express their judgment about parties’ and candidates’ performance in office during the previous term.’
Two opposing tendencies in the voting process: personal or party representation? Some of us will stick without question to a ‘favourite’ party, sometimes for generations, without much consideration for the candidate that represents it, although the better the candidate, the better are chances of winning; on the other hand, some will stick with a candidate that represents the closest they can find to their ‘ideal’ one, whatever party he/she is affiliated with; this candidate might have ‘charmed’ them by his looks, his voice, his intelligence, his honesty, …
Voters tend to pay more attention to candidates’ personal traits in local elections, and tend to give more weight to partisan or ideological factors when deciding whom to vote for in provincial or national elections. This column was based on the assumption that in the voting decision, voters face this question, this dilemma: when they cast their ballot, are they choosing a candidate or a party? Both are true: in most countries, elections serve the purpose of selecting both the public policies that will be implemented (from among the different proposals of each party) and the specific individuals who will be in charge of this process. But what about voters? Do they care about these two types of representation? Conclusions are that they do: when citizens decide whom to vote for, they weigh up not only the candidates’ individual skills or public image, but also the party which they represent. In other words, they care about both the quality of representatives and of representation.
In a multi-party system like Canada’s, forming a government is all a matter of mathematics: ‘majority = half the seats in contention + one’ is the rule and grants the leading party the privilege of forming a government; minority governments are also workable and able to survive a few years (18 months on average actually as per data) before a lack of consensus between associate parties leads to a new general election; this has now become a redundant situation, almost a tradition in Israel for example, and sometimes the case in Canada!
Whatever your voting strategy is, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell voters have choices, TWELVE in fact: candidate #1,2,3,4,5 or 6, and parties #1,2,3,4,5 or 6. Whatever party or candidate you vote for, DO VOTE because ‘Every election is determined by people who show up!’ (Larry Sabato).
In last week’s column, an error was made in the list of official candidates for this election in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. Jean-Serge Brisson is NOT a candidate for this election: you should have read the name of Marc Bisaillon instead. Also, the independant candidate named The Joker (sic) was omitted. Sorry for the inconvenience.