P.E.I.'s political backroom deals troubling; they leave voters out of equation

Campbell Webster
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Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, left, and NDP Leadeer Mike Redmond, take part in a public event during the 2015 P.E.I. provincial election campaign.

So we find ourselves almost smack in the middle of two election campaigns, a provincial one just past, and one federal one now under way.

We like to think of our Island selves as champions of democracy, given our high voter turnout. But perhaps it is also time to take stock of how we conduct ourselves in these periods. For there seems to have been some questionable deeds committed in our recent provincial campaign.

In the women’s issues debate, all of our male leaders tried to position themselves as the true friend to the non-men among us, sometimes in a patronizing fashion. Witness Peter Bevan-Baker’s condescending assertion that “many of our best entrepreneurs are women,” as if this is a great revelation that the girls are good at business too.

Or Wade MacLauchlan’s offering that more women don’t enter politics because of negative advertising. The boys can take it, but the girls can’t? This was simply a way to shoehorn an attack into a high-heel with which to bash the Tories.

And the backroom deals that were cut and broken. An NDP campaign worker made a deal with the Conservatives to not unfairly attack one another in the CBC debate. The Conservatives, and Rob Lantz, stayed true to their deal. The NDP campaign worker did not, nor even informed Leader Mike Redmond that such a deal had been offered.

The more troubling secret deal was the one cut between Peter Bevan-Baker and the NDP riding association executive in Bevan-Baker’s riding, a deal that NDP Leader Mike Redmond and Peter Bevan-Baker confirmed to The Guardian.

Many of the NDP activists in Bevan-Baker’s riding were partial to his candidacy, as they had stood shoulder-to-shoulder opposing Plan B.

So the NDP riding association executive made the following deal with Bevan-Baker at the beginning of the campaign: The NDP candidate in Bevan-Baker’s riding would not put up a single sign, nor go door-to-door in the riding, signalling their support for the Green Party in District 17.

Which is exactly what the NDP candidate did, i.e almost nothing. In a phone conversation with an NDP riding association executive member, Bevan-Baker privately accepted, applauded, and thanked the NDP riding association for laying down their arms in his riding.

Why this deal is troubling in the first place is that such collaboration leaves the voters out of the equation, with the NDP and Green’s doing deals without voter knowledge or participation.

But far worse is Bevan-Baker’s debate statement that all Islanders want is “good, honest people, offering, good honest government.” For what he said four days before election day seemed to offer neither.

As reported in The Guardian by Jim Day, four days before the election, Bevan-Baker publicly condemned the NDP for not answering his late campaign request to “pull their candidate in his riding” in return for Bevan-Baker “pulling his candidate” in NDP leader Mike Redmond’s riding.

Bevan-Baker knew full well that the NDP had already done just that in good faith, in a secret deal that he had signed on to, and yet Bevan-Baker was now running them down.

Good and honest?

But perhaps the most common, and not new, aspect of the past campaign, was the time honoured tradition of many partisans of all parties: The gossip campaign. For when a variety of low-level Liberal operatives offered up false characterizations of Rob Lantz’s work, and even nap-ethic, to any who would listen, you knew slime was afoot.

You might ask, what is a nap-ethic? Well, in this incarnation, it was the fabrication that Mr. Lantz likes to sleep during the day, therefore making his candidacy suspect.

We can do better. Running around full of happy back slapping about how many of us vote does not a good democracy make. A commitment to good, honest behaviour does.

 So let’s not just say it.


Campbell Webster is an entertainment writer and producer. He is also a former campaign manager and current party supporter for the NDP. Campbell can be reached at campbell@campbellwebster.ca

Organizations: The NDP, Conservatives, CBC Green Party

Geographic location: District 17.Which

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Recent comments

  • david
    August 29, 2015 - 04:12

    This just shows that the NDP and Greens are no different then any other party. They will do Anything to get elected and get their place at the taxpayers trough. Doesn't matter what type of electoral system we have it come down to the fact that there is NO SUCH thing as honest politician or wannabe politician. Baker-Bevan and Redmond are no different then anyone else. Actually Lantz if the one who showed he does have some honor and will honor a deal. NDP and the Greens show they have no moral fibre.

  • Angus
    August 28, 2015 - 23:15

    I'm afraid you are in for more insults at the Farmer's market Mr. Webster, but deserve credit for laying it all out for the public. You and www,redlikeme.ca seem to be the only ones doing so on our little Island. However, as for leaving the voters out of the equation, I think it's fair to say they have done that to themselves. Even on PEI they cannot be so dumb as to not know what they are doing both federally and provincially with their votes. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, than PEI is certainly rife with that particular malady.

  • Larry
    August 28, 2015 - 13:52

    The opposition Tories are certainly controlled by the backroom. Look how Olive Crane was ousted? Rob Lantz has remained even though he is unelected and there are 8 elected members, the backroom. The Liberal party has been controlled by Lawyers and a few business people from Charlottetown. In terms of this writer's opinion on the NDP and the Greens, clearly you would not make a good political advisor. There should have been a deal where the Greens would not run a leader against NDP leader, and the NDP should not run a candidate against the Green leader. If you want change man, you have to be strategic. The NDP in PEI are not clever enough to be strategic, that is why you were shut out.

  • Darcie Lanthier
    August 28, 2015 - 12:08

    Under the first-past-the-post system voters asked for and wanted cooperation. Liberals with 41% of the vote won 67% of the seats (18 seats), while the opposition Conservatives and Greens with 48% of the vote won only 33% of the seats (9 seats). While NDP voters at 12% are not represented at all. The Leaders represented their parties well and I think it is a shame that they did not all get a seat in the Legislature and that PEI would be better governed if they had. Let us all hope the our Premier improves this system so that every vote cast will count.

  • Politics
    August 28, 2015 - 11:21

    The unfortunately happens at all levels at GOVT.............and no matter who wins in OTTAWA it will happen there..as the back room boys rubs their hands in glee.....