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Sunday, February 17, 2008

a modest proposal.

Calgary Grit has a pretty good rundown of the ongoing Tory CRO appointment scandal and here's a great clip from Friday's Edmonton Journal:

“On Thursday, Stelmach insisted he had nothing to do with selecting the returning officers. Tom Olsen, a spokesman for the premier, later clarified that Conservative MLAs and Tory constituency associations put names forward to party officials, and those officials submit the list to the chief electoral officer at Elections Alberta. Cabinet then approves the choices through an order-in-council.”
Here's some video footage that I took of Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft announcing that an Alberta Liberal government will put the Chief Electoral Officer in charge of ensuring free and fair elections in Alberta, rather than... say... the Progressive Conservative Party. A modest proposal if I've ever heard one...


Anonymous said...

Check out this youtube video of Ed Stelmach in all his stuttering glory.

Anonymous said...

Eggheads pontificating about democracy don't win elections. Farmers hanging with the folks win elections. The Liberals just don't get it
The Calgary Sun
Sat 16 Feb 2008
Page: 5

This just in from a very unscientific poll.

When asked to explain the meaning of the term "returning officer," 62% say it is the person at the border hassling them about what is on their laptop or where all the real nifty stuff in their suitcase came from.

Another 30% say it is the person on Boxing Day who scowls at them when they bring back the ugly sweater because it's too small and they didn't put it back in the box nicely and they can't find the receipt.

And 8%, yes it is very unscientific, figure it is the individual supervising all those nice folks who never seem to find your name on the voters list when you go down to mark your 'X' on election day.

Well, those unscientific 8% get the gold star. They're right. But premier wannabe Kevin Taft, the Liberal leader, isn't.

Taft decides the fact returning officers include many Tory supporters and are picked by the province's election boss from a list presented by the ruling party is THE issue to grip the imagination of Albertans and propel him to the big seat at the big table.

No, bread-and-butter issues are just too common for the egghead. Auto insurance, royalties, money for cities and towns. Little word on those issues until the horse is well out of the barn. Then, what can you expect when this guy misses the boat more often than a sailor on shore leave without a watch.

In the very large brain of the doctor of something or other, a fight over the democratic process surely will get Todd and Tara to demand Taft take the wheel and lead the province to true democracy.

Guess Dr. Daft doesn't follow Calgary news. Forget returning officers. We had real scandal.

This city had a made-for-TV movie in the making with vote-rigging allegations, Tories dragged into court and hitting the headlines, including a Conservative MLA. We saw taxpayer money spent, police searches made, a closed-door deal cut to stop one court case, charges laid in other instances, the resignation of an alderman, convictions under election law, a public probe, even though it was neutered more skilfully than any vet could manage. Story after story after column after picture after editorial outrage.

Public reaction? So slim, runway models were shocked.

But Dr. Daft is nothing if not in the clouds. Of course, the hiring of returning officers should be out of the hands of any political party.

But, as we enter the second half of a campaign, where Premier Ed doesn't have to play rope-a-dope since the dope isn't duking it out, Dr. Daft finally decides this is his issue.

His press release proclaims it is time "to end the abuse of trust." He finds "democracy has withered." He mentions one-party rule for 37 years, without adding the Liberals would have a better chance to end such rule if they would scrap the snobbery, stop being such condescending twits and stick to what affects the lives of people who don't pontificate from a perch at the faculty club.

In front of the legislature, Dr. Daft hands out copies of his book, Democracy Derailed, no doubt rescuing them from the bookstore remainder bin.

The returning officers, the horror of the returning officers, is on his massive mind.

"There's only one way to clean it up and that is to bring in a new government. Turf them out and get a fresh start for the province. The choice is to sweep the place clean," says the Liberal number-one.

You want more? Of course you do.

"The ethics have been broken. Morality has been broken. Public trust has been broken.

"The very fundamentals of democracy which require fair and non-partisan administration have been broken.

"This stinks."

Come on, hang in there. The crossword can wait.

"And I can tell you even though a law may not been broken that doesn't mean it is right. This is wrong."

Well, it is wrong but there are many things wrong and, in a battle for ballots, you pick the biggest wrongs first and you bang the drums loudly.

You don't pick what the political junkie bloggers want or the navel gazers or a substantial number of Liberal insiders who, in case you didn't know, figure you readers are ... how do I put this delicately .... not up to their level of intellectual sophistication.

But the Liberal smart guys won't climb down from their highbrow Everest and all the premier has to do is swat the current fly in the ointment and say he will review how returning officers are chosen after the election.

"If there are recommendations we'll be making certain we'll be looking at them. We're always open-minded," says the premier.

The Liberal boss is then forced into a corner and has to admit it's too late to do anything now.

When will they ever learn?

Jerry Aulenbach said...

Call ne naiëve, but how much influence can even the most biased RO have in a given riding/poll? Are we talking maybe rejecting a handful of votes when the difference is going to be hundreds or thousands anyway? Are there any cases of abuse of authority in past elections by blue ROs? I guess that if it was left to an entirely 'unbiased' 3rd party it would keep everyone quiet on the issue (maybe), but guess what, even ROs have political views, and will likely be as biased then as they are accused of being now. If I recall, there is a process that can be followed if someone needs to report a concern, so let's wait and see if there are any legit concerns.

-Jerry Aulenbach

Anonymous said...

Isn't it delightful to live in one of the few places on earth where people have so much faith in the system that they can afford to simply assume that it works perfectly? We here in Alberta need to overhaul the mechanics of our politics, both on the provincial and party levels. Returning officers should be completely seperated from politicians and parties, as they are in the rest of the country. Our parties need to clean up their bylaws and procedures too - to avoid shenanigans like the PC problems in Egmont.

Alberta has grown up, and is now both too populous and too diverse for the parochial systems we have inherited. It is time to move on and clean it up.

These are things that every party should have dealt with years ago, and the fact that they remain in progress is an embarrassment to all of them.

Anonymous said...

Just for information, some excerpts from BC's election act, with some bolding from me:

Elections BC is a non-partisan Office of the Legislature responsible for the administration of the Election Act, Recall and Initiative Act, and conduct of referenda under the Referendum Act."

“As a statutory Officer of the legislature, the Chief Electoral Officer REPORTS DIRECTLY TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY THROUGH THE SPEAKER. As an independent Officer, the Chief Electoral Officer can make orders, regulations and exercise responsibilities of the position in an impartial manner. The Chief Electoral Officer cannot be a member of a political party, make contributions to a party or candidate, or vote in any provincial elections.”

Elections Act

“(8) A district electoral officer or deputy district electoral officer must not
(a) be a member of, be an employee of, hold a position with or make a contribution to a registered political party, a registered constituency association or a political party or constituency association seeking registration, or
(b) in relation to the individual's candidacy, be an employee of, hold a position with or make a contribution to an individual who is, intends to be or was a candidate in an election.”

Anonymous said...

Looks like Rick Bell has been bought off like the 5 dollar 'ho that he is.

Now he and Neil Waugh can make sweet, sweet love together on top of Brokeback Mountain.

refill said...

It's bad enough to come across a Rick Bell column in its natural habitat. But to have a column cross-posted in its entirety? Thank God for my scrolling mouse.

Rick Bell's idea of wit is to make fun of Kevin Taft for being intelligent and well educated. Oh, and to make fun of his name. Rick Bell -- more like *Dick* Bell! Tee hee!

If quoting Rick Bell is the closest you can come to intelligent discourse, I pity you.