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Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Secret slate" riles MLA hopefuls

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Even when there's no evidence, it can still be a front-page story!

The title of this post is the headline from the front-page story in last Monday's Name of Paper Withheld. Mighty strong words there. "Secret slate"! Goodness, I already smell the conspiracy brewing. And "riles"! Not "irks" or "bothers", but "riles". Name of Paper Withheld is NOT taking this secret slate lightly. Let's read on, shall we?

As usual, my comments are in bold text.

Some [name of town withheld] MLA hopefuls are complaining that a "secret slate" of candidates are bringing de facto party politics to the North.

Stop right there. "Slate" is singular, so it "are" not bringing anything anywhere.

The allegation...

Yikes. Allegation? This really IS serious!

...centres on the attendance of several candidates at a series of election workshops held by the Canadian Labour Congress this summer. The Congress is closely associated with the NDP.

So you're telling us that some candidates went to a workshop. For my American readers, I'll note here that "NDP" stands for New Democratic Party. It is our national left-wing party.

"My concerns are built around the secret slate that's being presented," said [name of town withheld] Centre incumbent Robert Hawkins. "(These candidates are) bringing party politics through the back door."

"I've heard the rumours of a secret slate," said Frame Lake candidate Chris Johnston. "I would hope that these candidates running would have enough respect for the electorate to be honest about their intentions, and not be swayed by special interests."

"If they're going to work together and collaborate behind the scenes, they should let the public know that," said Kam Lake incumbent Dave Ramsay. "Whose agenda are they running under, their own or a party agenda?"

Wow. Name of Paper Withheld is clearly following the three-source rule: If you can get three people to confirm the information, it's probably true. This probably took a lot of investigative work. People who are running for election usually aren't willing to talk to the media, especially about their rivals.

Four candidates -- Bob Bromley, Ashley Geraghty, Ben McDonald and Doug Ritchie -- confirmed that they attended the workshops, although they all flatly deny claims that they are a "slate".

Denials in the face of evidence! Someone is definitely hiding something! Notice that Name of Paper Withheld got these candidates to "confirm" that they went to the workshops. Nobody ever "confirms" anything good. I'm suspicious, and you should be, too. These four are bad news.

"I think the people spreading these rumours are using tactics that I don't think I'd like to see in the legislature," said [name of town withheld] Centre candidate Ben McDonald. "I am not representing a party. I do not have any party support."

The long-time labour leader said the workshop was open to any candidate, and drew a wide range of people with multiple party allegiances.

A long-time labour leader? He's DEFINITELY hiding something! Everyone knows that labour leaders are in with the NDP! Wait a minute -- did he just say that anyone could go to the workshop? And that a wide range of people showed up? These individuals wouldn't have had "multiple party allegiances", of course, but I'm starting to wonder about the three-source rule.

Doug Ritchie, who is running in Great Slave, laughed audibly when asked by Name of Paper Withheld if he was part of a labour-influenced slate.

Hmmm. So you called the guy and he laughed in your face. This is definitely my favourite line from the story.

"I definitely attended the campaign workshop, and I thought it was very useful," he said. "It was open to all sorts of people. I don't think it was secret, and I don't think there's any collusion to bring party politics here."

"We've been accused of having an NDP slate," said Ritchie, who is a Green Party member. "I'm not a member of the NDP."

The quotation marks here are confusing, but what I think Mr. Ritchie is saying is that he's not part of the NDP and that anyone could go to the workshop. I'm pretty sure he said something about it not being secret, too, but I'd have to replay the tape on that one.

"I'm a card-carrying Conservative," said Ashley Geraghty, who is trying his luck in the Range Lake riding.

He attended a meeting for campaign managers just before the election began, he said. Geraghty is the chief shop steward at Stanton Territorial Hospital.

Wait, so this guy's not a member of the NDP, either? He's actually the complete ideological opposite of an NDP member? This is totally blowing my mind. What about the three-source rule? Does this mean we can't trust information that is backed up by three sources? I'm still suspicious, though: what's this NEW meeting he's talking about? Is that the same secret workshop or a different secret workshop?

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I wonder what the point of a secret slate would be. A slate is helpful in elections for city council, where people are asked to vote for a number of candidates who all have the same core beliefs. But in tomorrow's election, people will only be able to vote for one candidate. What would be the point of having a slate? And what benefit would there be in having a secret slate? Isn't the whole point of a slate to let everyone know which group of people they should vote for? Isn't that why slates are usually advertised heavily?

The story goes on, but I am going to stop here. I'm afraid of the implications. It looks like the reporter decided to do a whole front-page story about a silly rumour even though he didn't have any evidence except the say-so of a few political rivals. The only people who know whether the rumour is true all say it's not, and sometimes they laugh out loud at the suggestion.

If we can't trust the media, who CAN we trust? Excuse me, I'll be hiding under the bed.


Anonymous said...

From Ashley Geraghty (the one quoted in the article).

Our newspaper is not known for it's level of excellence.

The previous election the NDP did try to run a "public slate" of NDP'ers - the intent was to bring party politics to the North.

Thus some of the "conservative" members thought that they would get the NDP caught up into a secret NDP run at party politics - something most folks in the North hate. In the end it was just a Union workshop - to help Union members get elected - regardless of what party they belonged to. And funny enough it actually was open to all the public!

The best thing about this story is that two of the MLA hopefuls that did the complaining are "conservatives". They were so caught up in trying to tarnish the NDP that they never thought to slow down and do a simple check of facts. So here I was, a card carrying conservative being attacked by other conservatives. Not a shining moment.

Keep in mind that this is as tuff as our politics gets - so this was considered very "nasty".

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Megan said...

Hi Ashley,

Thanks for visiting my site. I've moved to, so I'll cross-post your comment over there.

Please come back!