Stop it! Stop it right now. I'm going to rip the tongue out of anyone who calls last week's tawdry episode NominateGate. Watergate was called Watergate because that was the name of the building the Republican plumbers broke into. It didn't have anything to do with a gate, except in a very historical context. Give it a rest, people.
As much as I'd like to get down in the social media pit and sling mud with the others - something at least as much fun as having a root canal without enough drugs to bring an elephant to its knees - I'm going to suggest we all move on to more important matters. I myself am going to move on to more important matters since there are more important matters to move on to.
And I'll move on to them... next week.
This week, I'm just going to pose some questions, make some observations and even call into question someone's forthrightness.
One of the relatively beautiful things about Canadian politics, compared to U.S. politics, is that campaigns are mercifully short. Municipal campaigns are a mere six weeks or less and only happen once every three years.
And not every one of those six weeks is as important as the others. The middle weeks are only so-so important. Gotta get ballots drawn up, get mail-in ballots out, important stuff but largely clerical in nature. From an outsider's perspective though, it seems as though there are two really, really important weeks - the week the candidates hand in their nominating papers and the week of the election itself.
In the world I live in, the person in charge of elections probably wouldn't choose either of those weeks to go on holiday. Just seems, well, professional, for lack of a better word, to stick around and make sure everything goes tickety-boo during those weeks. Without casting aspersions on the management of the RMOW or any one person's professionalism, I'll just leave it at that.
Regardless, one would, again from an outsider's perspective, figure whomever was in charge would peruse the candidates' papers as they were handed in. How long can it take? And, in fact, that's what happened. And whoever was in charge thought the papers were in order and let the candidates know as much.
But then, somebody sent in an inquiry. The guy whose team sent it in said there's a book, How to Win a Local Election , that says you should contact the Chief Electoral Officer and ask him/her to make sure everyone's papers are in order. If that's all there was to it, there wouldn't be anyone calling this NominateG#*e. But, and here is where it gets very he-said, he-said, the inquiry wasn't to check everyone's papers. It was to check specific papers signed by a specific nominator, ironically and most pointedly, including a candidate for the same office. That may have been an addendum to the book, written by Karl Rove.
And so, well, you know the rest.
As a public service, I checked all the candidates' papers. It didn't take too long, but it did reveal something quite surprising. Either the forms are way too complicated or something like 90 per cent of all the candidates and nominators can't fill out a simple form. Names and addresses were in the wrong place, names weren't complete, information was missing or in the wrong spot. And, unbelievably, one of the only forms that didn't seem to have any errors was Steve Anderson's... and his form was bumped into court! Caramba!
I was going to list the whole litany of errors, but that took half my column and I didn't think Mr. Barnett would consider it earning my keep if I fudged the first 500 words. So here's the synopsis of questionable entries made on just the mayoral candidates' forms, alphabetically.
Shane Bennett: may or may not have listed his full name, has no income so presumably needs the job.
Ralph Forsyth: didn't list full name (Desmond), owns shares in company called Whistler "Blackomb," whatever that is, doesn't know the difference between Your Position and Name of Business in three out of four cases, owns unknown class of real property called "conominimum" which was entered where the legal description of whatever it is should be.
Miro Kolvek: lists less information than people in witness relocation programs.
Brent McIvor: I'm not sure, in the spirit of full disclosure, "Shares of publically traded companies" is quite what "List the name of each corporation in which you hold one or more share..." means.
Ken Melamed: didn't list full name, Kenneth, or middle name, which I can fully understand and overlook. Failed to list legal description of real estate, other than residence, owned.
Nancy Wilhelm-Morden: one nominator, Drew Meredith, listed Pemby address in space for his Whistler, non-resident property elector, which I'm informed he has.
Now, it's not like we don't know all these people, candidates and nominators alike. We know who they are, we've known for some time they're going to run, we're happy to have them in the show. No one was trying to commit a fraud or pretend to be someone they weren't. But the net result of this comedy of errors was to tie up the valuable time of several muni employees, a bevy of high-priced lawyers, put some of the candidates to considerable personal expense and make their lives quite stressful.
And it wasn't a case of people simply not paying enough attention to the forms they were filling out, as so many nitpickers in the social media world have tried to spin it. If insignificant clerical errors were enough to toss candidates out, we wouldn't have enough left to fill the positions up for election.
So what exactly was the motivation for putting this farce into play?
Well, not wanting to face your opponents in a fair election comes immediately to mind. Wanting to win so badly you're willing to pull any trick in the book suggests itself. Having such desire for office and political ambition you're blind to the ethical quagmire you're wading into is high on the list of potential explanations.
But right now, we don't know for sure. A former campaign worker is currently being blamed, the candidate saying he had nothing to do with it. The former campaign worker says that ain't quite the way it happened and, in fact, the candidate knew exactly what was going on. Consider those two positions the bookends of a continuum. Somewhere in between them is a nebulous concept we call the truth.
I'm betting the truth is going to come out. And I'm betting someone's going to look bad when it does.
But whatever happens, it ain't going to solve our problems. So let's move on. We've got financial issues, communication issues, transparency issues, parking issues and leadership issues to hammer out and we've only got a few weeks to come to our decisions.
Let's get back to work.