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Northern Pride (Meadow Lake, SK), Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Our democracy must not be made a fool of

It's being touted as Nomination Day; a day when card-carrying Liberal Party of Canada members will vote on a candidate to represent their interests for the Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill river riding.

There's an organic farmer and a First Nations woman as candidates. Both David Orchard and Joan Beatty have solid experience behind them as politicians and both believe the riding is theirs for the taking.

Before they can face Conservative Rob Clarke for the post in the next federal election — with the federal Liberals saying mum about when they might try to bring the government down — the pair must face off against one another.

While there are divisions in the Liberal Party of Canada membership here in Saskatchewan — especially in the northern portion of the province — it's not clear what those divisions have done to the party's chance of beating the Conservatives in this riding.

Another problem seems to be looming, threatening to bring down the Saskatchewan Liberal machine yet again. Looking at the polling locations for the August 14 nomination vote, five of the polling stations are located in the northern half of the riding, while two are found in the Northwest. The final two locations are odd ducks, with isolated Pinehouse Lake being one and Prince Albert (which isn't even in the riding) being the second.

The only polling stations in the Northwest are in Meadow Lake and Canoe Lake Cree Nation. Orchard wants to include another polling station in Ile-a-la Crosse so that Liberal party members from La Loche, for example, don't have to drive hours just to vote.

It may seem like small potatoes, but what's at stake is ensuring a contest where both candidates compete for their peers' support on an even playing field.

If equal representation isn't made possible, then all the high-flying morality people like to preach these days gets tossed out the window. Democracy is then made a fool of, a meaningless formality, rendered useless as politicians move to pull the puppet strings and manipulate votes.

There must be at least one more polling station in the Northwest so that Liberal Party of Canada members here can place their vote and chose, in a fair way, who will represent them in the next federal election.

It's time for Canadians here in northern Saskatchewan to ensure their democracy isn't turned into a sideshow.

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