EDITORIAL: Voter discontent

Federal candidates were asked this question: if you were elected MP, who would be your boss?

If you believe there is growing cynicism about politics, parties and politicians — declining voter turnout may be evidence of that — then it may be appropriate to examine the reasons behind the discontent.

One of the complaints we hear is the people we send to Ottawa or Victoria to represent us end up explaining how those capitals and their government machines work, instead of taking the views of constituents to the halls of power.

This disconnect is not something owned by one particular party — it crosses all lines.

With that in mind, we asked three federal election candidates on Sunday the same question: if you were elected as this riding’s MP, who would be your boss?

It’s a too-simple question for a complicated subject, we get that. And these three candidates had just finished their first all-candidates forum, a well-attended event organized by the Canadian Federation of University Women (Parksville-Qualicum branch) on International Women’s Day.

If the candidates or their supporters believe this was an ‘ambush’ type question, they should consider it a softball compared to what they would face from the national media in Ottawa.

Carrie Powell-Davidson of the Liberal Party had a tough day Sunday. She seemed unprepared — she admitted as much as she stumbled to answer one of the questions from the floor. Her party has a high-profile leader in Justin Trudeau, but when we asked the question she didn’t hesitate to say it was her constituents who would be her boss.

The Green Party has one of the most globally-respected leaders in the country in Elizabeth May. The local Green candidate, Glenn Sollitt, didn’t hesitate to say it would be constituents who would be his boss if he was elected MP.

NDP candidate Gord Johns also didn’t hesitate with his answer. When asked who would be his boss if elected as this region’s MP, he said it would be Tom Mulcair, the national leader of the party.

John Duncan, the Conservative candidate, was flying back to Ottawa to his job as government whip and did not attend the event Sunday. We can’t put the answer to our question in his mouth, but he clearly has a leader with a reputation for strict party discipline in Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

This will be an interesting federal election here. Constituents who get the opportunity to speak with candidates should ask them what they intend to do for the riding that includes Parksville Qualicum Beach.

— Editorial by John Harding

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