Editorial: Election spells democracy, no?

Well, hasn’t this campaign started with a pop!

Calling a federal election smack in the middle of summer, when our biggest concern is going to bed with sand between our toes, should make for a lazy, hazy campaign launch. But that’s hardly been the case in Richmond. 

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The intrigue began Monday when a Wendy Yuan supporter phoned to confirm I was sending a reporter to an announcement later that day. The caller said it would “blow my mind.” I snickered at the thought. Elections in Richmond are a lot of things, but rarely are they mind-blowing.

However, I have to admit he wasn’t all wrong. Yuan, who was hoping to represent the federal Liberal Party in the new riding of Steveston-Richmond East, announced she recently received a call from the Liberal Party officials, telling her she had been nixed from the ballot and Joe Peschisolido would be acclaimed. 

It was news to us that the Alliance-turned-Liberal was even running.

Yuan was told her application didn’t pass the “green light” stage. Strange, given it was good enough for the last two elections. She had run as a Liberal candidate in 2008 and 2011, in the Vancouver-Kingsway riding, both times losing to NDP Don Davies, but still garnering significant support.

Yuan suspects her rejection has to do with Richmond’s former MP, Raymond Chan, now a party fundraiser. The implication is Chan interfered because Yuan has questioned his ethics in regards to fundraising within the Chinese community.

We don’t know if that’s the case. What we do know is that the practice, and this is certainly not an isolated example, of hand-picking candidates and over-riding the nomination process is bad news for democracy. Parties are quite justified in vetting candidates to check for skeletons, but it’s hard to believe that’s what this is about.

Meanwhile, over at the Conservative camp, Stephen Harper was in Richmond on Tuesday night speaking to supporters. While the media was invited to attend, record and disseminate his campaign speech about how his party is fighting terrorism to protect our freedoms, questions (as is often the case at a Harper event) would not be permitted. If that’s not questionable enough, when a reporter with CKNW 980 asked a question, not to Harper but to supporters attending the event, she was escorted out of the building.

These may be small incidents in themselves, but they represent a truly concerning assault on our democracy — the very ideology we are attempting to uphold by having an election in the first place.

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