Tag Archives: representation

I Want to be Represented by the Best of the Best; Not the Best of the Rest

By Jason Menard

I prefer to vote FOR something, not against it. No matter at what level, I’d rather vote based on conscience, not compromise. Most of all, I want to choose from the best of the best; not the best of the rest.

If you follow municipal politics in London, you’ll know that, for some, the Great Satan is Incumbency (well, Selected Incumbency). The talisman to ward of that perceived evil, of course, is quality opponents (with a Hail Mary thrown towards term limits).

Yet, in an odd twist, there those who once lamented a dearth of quality candidates are now wringing their hands over an overabundance of perceived quality – to the point where the Great Satan of Incumbency will rise up, Lazarus-like, to reclaim his or her throne, based on vote-splitting.

And, to combat this challenge, there has been whispers of what is to me an even greater evil. An evil that undermines the intent of the electoral process in its purest form.

Strategic candidate selection. Continue reading

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What I Said About Joe

By Jason Menard

I’m not a rube; I’m not a patsy; nor am I ignorant. Yet you wouldn’t know that because, according to some of the self-professed arbiters of what’s right in London, because I don’t think that Mayor Joe Fontana should be forced to step down, I must be one of the aforementioned three.

It seems many in this so-called London, ON Twitterverse (and it’s orbiting social networks) can’t get the simple fact that disagreeing with the motion asking for the mayor to step down does not directly equal approval of Fontana’s behaviour or the situation the city finds itself in. Continue reading

Professional or Puerile? How Do We Want to Be Represented?

By Jason Menard

Politics has long been a game of dirty pool. With only 30 days to go before Ontarians head to the polls, we can only hope that voters will decide they want a straight shooter — and that politicians will remember that when we go to the polls, we’re electing someone who will represent us.

And that means candidates must act in a way worthy of our voice. I know how I would represent myself in the legislature — so I expect my elected voice to behave in a similar fashion. Continue reading

Ford Drives Home Reality that We Let Representatives Represent Only Themselves

By Jason Menard

It seems many of our elected representatives forgot what they were elected to do – represent. And, to be honest, it’s our own fault.

Doug Ford provides just the latest example. It seems the non-mayoral-Ford has been participating in Kenney-esque bully politics. The latest tactic is insulting a Canadian literary icon in the battle over Toronto’s libraries.  Continue reading

Union Must Decide Who it Represents

If the NBA’s players’ association actually appeals the suspensions levied this weekend against noted bad boys Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest, then they’re doing a disservice to the rest of its constituency.

I get it. You’re a union. And unions protect their membership without fail. There’s something admirable in that for sure, but the positives are grossly outweighed by the negatives.

After all, there are no absolutes in life, and this is one case where the players’ association should realize that discretion is truly the better part of valour.

Jackson and Artest were each suspended seven games on Saturday for off-the-field incidents: Artest’s May misdemeanor domestic violence charge and Jackson’s June shoot-‘em-up outside of an Indiana strip club. And while Jackson, for once, has shown grace in accepting his punishment, his union representation is already floating trial balloons about the inherent unfairness of these punishments in light of past precedents.

Let’s just hope those trial balloons pop — and soon.

Maybe, when compared with previous suspensions for off-the-field transgressions, these suspensions are a tad harsher. But the union has to understand that this is the dawn of a new era in sport.

There’s a huge backlash against thug culture. What started innocently as the big, bad Raiders, morphed into the more gangster lean of the NBA. Tatooed bad boys with a heart of gold like Alan Iverson, for a while, were the poster boys of the league. Long gone were the days of crew cuts and nut huggers — piercings, ink, and baggy shorts were the style and the kids ate it up.

But now the pendulum’s shifted too far. Not a week goes by without some NFL player getting busted for some sort of transgression — usually involving alcohol, violence, or both — a fact that inspired ProFootballTalk.com to set up a Days Without an Arrest counter. NBA players have gone from Thug-lite Iversons to full-on, remorseless punks like Artest and Jackson. It wasn’t that long ago that these two were at the centre of a disgraceful display in Detroit — and they apparently haven’t learned their lesson.

Yes, the NBA Players Association has a mandate to protect its membership. But who needs protecting here? Two childish morons who think slapping women or endangering innocents with a firearm are just fun and games, or the majority of hard-working NBAers who are going to have their reputations tarnished simply through guilt by association?

Artest and Jackson have had chance after chance. Of course, this is also an association who felt that a suspension for a player choking his coach was unjust, when in truth jail time would have been warranted.

It’s a changing world. People are fed up with the inmates running the asylum. The average sports fan isn’t sitting on the couch, polishing his 9 and running down a list of people in whom they’re going to bust a cap. They’re not making it rain at the local adult emporium and then getting their posse to rough up a poor kid just for looking at them cross-eyed.

No, they’re at home with their kids, looking for an evening’s diversion with their kids. They’re looking to root for their favourite club without wondering if they’re supporting drug runners, rapists, and murderers. They’re looking to the LeBron Jameses, Shaquille O’Neals, and Ladainian Tomlinsons of the world to entertain them.

Unfortunately, too often they’re getting the Artests, Jacksons, Tank Johnsons, and Michael Vicks. Eventually — and arguably it’s already started – they’re going to get fed up and show their displeasure with the only resource they have at their disposal — their money.

When the fans leave, so too do the mega-million salaries — and that impacts each and every player, not just the goons who brought this cloud of negativity.

So the NBA players’ association needs to make a choice. Who is it protecting — the majority of players who are solid, hard-working players who are representing the union’s membership to its fullest, or the few bad seeds who are taking advantage of their position and poisoning the rest of the league with their selfishness.

A union is supposed to be a collective working together to support each other’s best interests. So before they rush to a negative judgment, maybe the union should consider in whose interests Artest and Jackson have been working.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Home is Where the Opportunity Lies

By Jason Menard

Liberal or local? For constituents in the London North Centre federal riding, that’s a question they may soon have to answer.

With Joe Fontana’s expected announcement that he will vacate his duly-elected seat in Parliament in favour of making a challenge for the mayor’s office, rumours have started floating regarding who would be a replacement candidate in the required by-election. And one name that’s been bandied about? Gerard Kennedy.

You know, Gerard Kennedy, born in La Pas, Manitoba and former Member of Provincial Parliament of Parkdale-High Park, in Toronto, who resigned his seat and his position as Minister of Education in his bid to lead the federal Liberals. In addition, Kennedy also lived in Edmonton and studied in Peterborough.

All of which makes him qualified to represent the good people of London North Centre how? As well travelled as Mr. Kennedy may be in this great land of ours, there is a noticeable lack of residency in the Forest City on his resume. The question is, should that matter?

This isn’t a new aspect of party politics. In fact, parties have long made it a habit of parachuting star candidates into warm ridings in order to get them official representation in the House of Commons – even if it means that a dedicated member of the community has to take one for the team and put aside their political aspirations, at least for the time being.

But whose team are we talking about? Does the Liberal Party – or any party for that sake – matter more than the representation of the people in the riding? Aren’t elected representatives supposed to be just that? The representatives of the people in a specific region or district? So how well represented will the people of London North Centre be if their potential MP has never spent any meaningful time in the riding?

That’s a question the voters have to ask. And they have to balance it with their political leanings. It’s a hard choice to reconcile and it represents the worst of party politics. If you are a tied-in-the-wool Liberal, do you put the needs of your party over your personal aspirations? Does voting in a representative, who by the very fact that they’re not of your riding – or even within the general vicinity of the area — diminish the sound of your voice in parliament? More importantly, does this type of activity not undermine the entire concept of representative government?

Admittedly, how one votes is a debate that is undertaken with each and every election. Do you vote for the person who appears to be most representative of your views and hopes for your riding, or do you choose the person who is a member of the party whose national view you favour? Do you vote for the local candidate with deep roots in the riding, even if you are skeptical about their party affiliation? Or do you roll the dice and support a candidate whose tethers to the riding are as thin as a spider’s web?

It all depends on how much value you place on individual representation. We have long been conditioned to look at the big picture, as opposed to focusing on the individual players. Coverage of elections and politics in general is greatly focused on Ottawa, as opposed to the impact that our Members of Parliament are having in their own ridings. Even election platforms, where local issues should be at the fore, are largely decided by national politicking and strategies.

So, should Kennedy be parachuted in with much fanfare and bluster, the voters in the London North Centre riding may have to decide where their sensibilities lie. Does the appeal of being the quote-unquote home riding of a potential future Prime Minister outweigh the fact that your representative may not even know who or what he’s representing.

Everyone can learn and a candidate can be well-versed on local concerns by his or her support staff, fellow regional MPs, and even a potential mayor. And there’s no questioning Kennedy’s intelligence, capability, and dedication to his cause. As well, this country has been built by those who have come from other places to settle throughout Canada, who eventually grow roots in their community and eventually become a natural part of the landscape. Can that same community entrenchment happen in a matter of months?

The old adage states that home is where the heart is and the constituents of London North Centre may soon have to decide whether they’re willing to accept someone for whom home is merely where the opportunity lies.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Putting New Words in the Electorate’s Mouth

By Jason Menard

Pat O’Brien’s decision to jump ship from the Liberal Party hasn’t silenced the voices of his constituency – his actions have his electorate singing a different tune, and some of his electorate may be choking on the words.

When does one’s obligations to their constituents outweigh the need to satisfy one’s personal beliefs? The line is often blurred when we look at the actions of our politicians. Elected on a specific mandate – usually determined, in large part, by their Party affiliation — our elected representatives convene on Parliament Hill to debate our nation’s future.

However, at times the ideals of an elected official outweigh their mandate to represent their electorate. Or the beliefs of the Party run counter to the representative’s personal opinions. It is with that conflict, based upon his disagreement with the Liberal Party leadership over the issue of gay marriage that London Fanshawe MP Pat O’Brien has chosen to leave the Liberal Party of Canada and sit as an independent.

While I disagree with O’Brien’s politics, I commend him for standing up for his beliefs. However he did not do enough. To be fair to the constituents who elected him as a representative of the Liberal government he must not simply continue his term as an independent, but rather resign his seat and request a by-election.

Our electoral system, however flawed we may feel it is at times, is based in large part on Party representation. An unfortunate number of the electorate couldn’t tell you who their Member of Parliament is, but are well aware of the differences between the various political parties. They vote red, blue, orange, or green – not for individual candidates.

As such, federal representatives like O’Brien and, on the flip side, Belinda Stronach, have deceived a large number of people who cast their ballots based on the belief that party-hopping was not on the agenda. Instead of working to affect change from within, these politicians – and others like them in the past – have flipped sides for their own advantage, not for the benefit of their constituents.

Both O’Brien and Stronach have not just ignored the voices of those who have voted for them in the past – they have bastardized their message and converted it to a cause that may be anathema to their voters’ personal beliefs. A Conservative supporter who voted for Stronach, no matter how centre-left she appeared to be, has every expectation that their vote for the Conservative candidate will be just that – and it won’t eventually evolve into support for the opposition!

The voice of the electorate has not just been muted – it’s been completely changed and words have been force-fed into the mouths of the voters. To make sure the right message is heard, it is imperative that the electorate in these particular ridings are allowed to opportunity to participate in a by-election.

That way, those who voted for Mr. O’Brien – the man, would be able to do so again, either as an independent candidate or, more likely, under the guise as the Conservative candidate he’s always appeared to be and seems destined to become. And those who voted for Mr. O’Brien – the Liberal, need to have the right to continue to support their party with their votes, as they believed they had during the last election.

Both Belinda Stronach and Mr. O’Brien need to do the right thing and step down. If they truly represent the will of the people, they will be duly elected by their constituency and can then – in good conscience – govern with the mandate of the people.

Both of these candidates made their respective jumps because they felt the need to stand up for what they believe in. But we did not vote these people in to act as freelance contractors, jumping from side to side depending on which way the political breeze is blowing. O’Brien and Stronach have forgotten that they are elected representatives – and that they represent voters who made their choices based upon now-flawed logic and expectations.

If these candidates are truly so high-minded in their belief of doing the right thing, then surely being fair to their constituents should not be too much to ask?

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved