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The Prince Albert Daily Herald, Monday, January 14, 2008

Liberals' battle applauded

Even those who do not support the Liberal Party can be forgiven for wishing success for the grassroots Liberals in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River.

On Saturday, Liberal constituents vowed to challenge the appointment of former provincial NDP cabinet minister Joan Beatty as the riding's representative in the forthcoming by-election. They plan to press national-level Liberal Party brass to allow a free nomination process — or allow ousted candidate David Orchard to stand.

While the battle they are about to wage is largely a closed-door, Liberal-only affair, it's a process that affects all of us.

Democracy is not a perfect beast. It is, in whatever guise it operates, flawed. In the current parliamentary system, Canadians as a whole do not get to vote for their national leader — we can only vote for specific candidates that if elected, will have some connection to that leader. Ultimately, the most pure democratic element rests in the nomination process itself: ultimately, that is the most direct connection between individuals and the candidates chosen to represent an area.

By circumventing this process, Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion has demonstrated he is no less susceptible to the fundamental weaknesses of federal power of those that went before him.

Either Dion is, through actions, suggesting he believes he has a better understanding of the candidate best able to represent that community, or he is simply running a candidate deemed best able to win rather than a candidate the people of the area have chosen. Either way, Dion's actions hint that the will and wishes of the rank-and-file in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River are irrelevant. It will further be less likely that voters will feel comfortable voting for Beatty, given that she has been a willing participant in this subversion of democracy.

We already have enough people acting as Ottawa's voice to Canadian citizens: it's time Ottawa — in all its political guises — started listening to Canadian citizens.

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