With the entrance of Manitoba Liberal Party candidate Darla Contois and Green Party of Manitoba candidate Meagan Jemmett, the race to be Thompson’s MLA is now a four-way contest.
Contois and Jemmett join Progressive Conservative incumbent Kelly Bindle and NDP candidate Danielle Adams in seeking votes in the provincial election Sept. 10.
While it seems unlikely that either of the new candidates will succeed in becoming the first Liberal or Green MLA for Thompson once the ballots are counted in a few weeks’ time, given that Thompson has only ever been represented by NDP, PC and one independent MLA in its 50-year history, it is nevertheless a positive thing for Thompson voters to have a full range of choices from the province’s four major political parties.
Some people may see the addition of candidates from parties with, realistically, basically no chance of forming the province’s next government as a negative thing, given that they may bleed away support from either the PC or NDP parties, but democracy is not based on any inherent right of established entities to the votes of an electoral district’s voting-age residents. Instead, it is supposed to be a battle of ideas, in which those who have the best ideas can use them to earn the support of voters.If any particular candidate, or the party that they represent, does not have sufficiently good ideas to attract any particular voter’s support, then the fact that some voters decide to cast their ballots for candidates with little chance of winning, or whose parties do not have broad enough support to have a shot at becoming the next government, or even the next official opposition, should be a signal that those candidates and parties are not responding to the needs of the people they seek to represent.
If nothing else, the addition of candidates from the Liberal and Green parties should at least give Thompson voters the chance to hear new viewpoints and to decide if those ideas are good enough to sway them from casting their ballot for the parties who have formed the province’s governments for the last several decades. And although things can be slow to change in politics, it is worth remembering that it wasn’t very long ago that Canada did not have any Green party MPs in Parliament, or Green party MLAs in provincial legislatures and now has both. In fact, in British Columbia, the Green party earned enough support to hold the balance of power following the last provinical election and to become a part of government by forming a coalition with the NDP to control more seats than that province’s Liberal party, which had held power for most of the first two decades of this century.
If nothing else, having four candidates should at least make the candidates’ forum scheduled for Sept. 4 at the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre less likely to be a couple of hours’ worth of the PCs and the NDP each accusing each other of being the sole author of the province’s misfortunes and, instead, a debate on ideas. Hopefully, Thompson electoral district voters will do their part and vote in advance polls or on election day to ensure that they are part of deciding the province’s future.