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1 posts from July 2009

July 02, 2009

Dean Del Mastro Calls Little Lake Poll "A Victory for Democracy": Peterborough Citizens Are Reminded of Orwell's Classic Political Satire 1984

There's democracy - and then there's Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro's idea of what constitutes democracy.

The Peterborough Examiner quotes Del Mastro as describing the results of the poll as "a victory for democracy."

Others, including Peterborough Federal Liberal Riding Association President John Nichols, heartily disagree. “He expended all kinds of taxpayers’ money to disseminate 98,000 ballots. Dean should be spending his time dealing with federal issues for which he was elected. He should not be acting as a lobbyist for a private developer, nor should he be trying to encroach on municipal jurisdiction to self-promote himself.”

Del Mastro's idea of what constitutes a victory for democracy is the stuff of which great Orwellian novels are made. (Think 1984 being played out in Peterborough in 2009.)

Here are a few examples of the very un-democratic ways in which this whole fiasco has played out so far.

- The list of people who received mail-in ballots was never enumerated. This resulted in a huge number of errors on the so-called voters list. Ballots were received by dead people. People received multiple ballots. People who haven't lived in the riding for years were eligible to vote.

- The ballot-counting process was conducted in-house by our MP (someone with a vested interest in the outcome) without any external scrutineers or auditors overseeing the process.

- Voters were required to include their names, addresses, and telephone numbers on their ballots. How can our MP be bragging about how democratic the process was when the sacred democratic principle of the secret ballot was sacrificed?

- Personal privacy was sacrificed. Our MP has drawn some conclusions based on his analysis of the information voters were required to provide: he has stated that voting occurred along partisan lines. I did not provide my name, address, and phone number so that my MP could attempt to link my name with political party records or use my data for partisan purposes. Perhaps this explains why the votes on the No side were not greater. (Anyone who monitored public opinion on this issue had the sense that public opinion was about 90% opposed to the process and the project.) It's possible that a lot of No voters boycotted the referendum because it was so flawed - and because, in the end, it had no legal standing. Why sacrifice your privacy for the sake of a ridiculous exercise in pre-election data-mining orchestrated by your MP?

- 4.5% of the ballots were declared spoiled - some because they contained an obscenity. Citizens were invited to provide comments, but they were not provided with any comments about whether the content of those comments might result in a ballot being declared invalid.

- The referendum was not conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Elections Act. The Act states that referenda must be conducted in conjunction with a municipal election.

Clauses 8, 9, and 10 of this document remind citizens of the high standard of conduct that is set for MPs. It is our duty as citizens to ensure that the people that we elect are seen to be following these guidelines.

Is the issue dead now that the poll results are in? Only in Dean Del Mastro's dreams. As Jeannine Taylor, an organizer of the Little Lake Protection Group, told the Peterborough Examiner, “I don’t think it’s a dead issue and it’s still really of concern. We’re going to keep plugging away at it … We can’t let this happen again.”

Anyone who truly cares about democracy recognizes that there is still a lot of work to be done in order to ensure that this kind of breakdown of democracy is never allowed to happen again in our riding.

Our MP either fails to recognize the implications of his actions - or he doesn't care. Either possibility is mind-boggling - and should serve as a wake-up call for citizens of this riding.