Sean Devine Nepean NDP Candidate: Candidates Matter
Over the last few weeks of this campaign I’ve read how many high-profile endorsements have been directed toward my Liberal opponent Chandra Arya. These have come from a former mayor of Nepean, a former NDP candidate, and a former Nepean city councilor, to name three. These well-intending people speak of Mr. Arya’s unmatched passion and energy, of his values and dedication, and how he is singularly the best candidate for Nepean. Their certainty on this matter is something they each have in common. But there’s something else that Chandra Arya’s endorsers have in common.
None of them have met me yet.
There are facts, and then there are suppositions. Mr. Arya has the most well-funded campaign in Nepean. That’s a fact. He’s worked hard to position himself, both on the campaign trail and behind-the-scenes. That’s a fact. He’s currently in the lead in this tight race, sending shivers down the neck of many Conservatives, even though in many ways the Liberals and Conservatives don’t appear that different (Bill C-51, TPP and a history of scandals to name three instances). These are all facts.
To say that Chandra Arya has the most energy and passion of any of the candidates, or that his values are the most representative of this very diverse riding, or that he is the best possible champion for the people of Nepean, to say that he is the best candidate out there – this is far from being a fact.
You just haven’t met me yet. Although many of you have.
What does it say about the Liberal candidate for Nepean when so many Liberal supporters tell me that they wish I was their candidate?
Nepean is a riding in the midst of a profound change, politically and culturally. There are strong divisions in this riding. There are deep springs of tension, just as there is a growing swell of progressive ideals and optimism. But when those two forces meet on the street, it’s not always pretty. When change comes suddenly, it doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes it comes with a fight.
What Nepean needs is a strong leader who has the principles, conviction and earned respect to lead our community through this change. What we need is some who can build and maintain consensus. We need a strong communicator, a charismatic leader who can galvanize the many different opinions and points-of-view existing in Nepean and help shape them in a common cause: for our community, for our city and for our country. I can be that person, and that’s a fact.
A few nights ago we held our final local debate for this campaign at the South Nepean Muslim Community Centre (SNMC). As has often been the case recently, Mr. Andy Wang was not there to represent the Conservatives. And frankly, why should he? Andy Wang does not represent Nepean. He represents the Conservative party’s agenda, pure and simple. More specifically, he represents the agenda of Pierre Poilievre, Wang’s former (and likely future) employer. I’ve chatted with Andy several times over this campaign. He seems like a decent enough fellow. But when the cameras turn on and the debate starts, he just spouts the party doctrine from his well-organized binder. Andy Wang is an empty suit.
The debate we had at the SNMC mosque in front of a large gathering of the Muslim community was a pivotal debate for my campaign and for the NDP. We know that we have a lot of support there, just as we have support among other cultural communities, youth communities, teachers, unions, etc. And so the stakes were high at this debate between myself, Chandra Arya and the Green candidate Jean-Luc Cooke.
Ask anyone who was there who won that debate. Ask anyone who watched the feisty and spirited Rogers televised debate. Ask anyone who listened to the CFRA radio debate, or who watched the packed-house debate in Bells Corners, or the amazing debate in front of 500 high school students.
When it comes to choosing between the three major parties, I won those debates, pure and simple. (My wife thinks both Jean-Luc Cooke and I both came out victorious in each of them, as do many people. Jean-Luc is a fantastic debater.) When it comes to the purpose of a political debate, which is to passionately represent yourself, your party and your platform, while calling out your opponents for their flaws and weaknesses, I won those debates, hands down. At one point during the SNMC debate, I was responding to a question about balancing our security concerns with the need to protect our rights and freedoms, I challenged Chandra Arya for the Liberal party’s strong support of Bill C-51. Mr. Arya’s response was to avoid the challenge and bring up Tom Mulcair’s position on Quebec separation and the Clarity Act. The audience snickered at this weak tactic even before I could.
As the debate ended, several dozen audience members came up to me to offer their appreciation and full support. “I’m voting for you.” “My whole family will vote for you!” I’d accomplished my goal. I showed them that I could be their strong and passionate representative, and that they could have confidence in my abilities and integrity.
And then something happened. A new presence entered the room. A presence strolled into a room filled with the euphoria and enthusiasm of a passionate political event, and poured water all over our fire.
It was the strategic voting people. LeadNow, or VoteTogether, or whoever they are. They came in with their little slips of paper, each slip reinforcing a week-old poll (and a small poll, at that). As they passed out their slips of paper, they traded each person’s hope and optimism with one more dose of anxiety and fear.
The fear and anxiety that we’ve come to expect from Stephen Harper has been replaced by a different brand of the same. Strategic voting is impeding people’s ability to express their own individual voice, and our democracy will be adversely affected by it. Watch this short video I made that explains (in a funny way) my concerns for it's potentially dangerous impact. (You can watch it below as well)
I have hundreds and hundreds of people who have my NDP signs on their lawn. These strategic voting organizations have specifically targeted these people, and sent them individual letters, delivered right to their mailbox, asking them to change their vote. Is that democracy? Is that how we want our governments to be decided? Not through will, but through pressure?
While strategic voting may produced the desired result, which is to rid our country of the Stephen Harper regime once and for all, it is far from a guarantee to success. Worse, it leaves other legacies.
Strategic voting may, in this election, produce a Liberal majority. Are we sure that this will leave our country in the best possible position to correct the wrongs of the last decade’s worth of abuse? Will the Liberal Party’s support of Bill C-51 and the Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP) go unchecked if they have a majority? What will become of our much-needed electoral reform if the Liberals win, since they won’t clarify their position on this critical issue. What if the status quo suits their needs?
If you vote strategically AGAINST one party rather than FOR the party of your preference, then your political voice will not be understood. It will just make the OTHER party stronger. If you vote with your heart you may not always win, but your voice will be understood, and it will be heard.
I know that I have the creativity, the vision, the experience and the strength of conviction to help lead Nepean in a new direction that is progressive, responsible, and which will promote all of our interests in a way that we can be proud of.
Elections are about deciding your principles, and finding the point where your principles match those of a political party, and a candidate. What are your principles? What kind of party, what kind of leader, and what kind of candidate do you wish to represent those principles? And what are you going to do about that?
I ask for your vote on October 19th.