Cornwall - Aug. 30, 2011 - 1) Both Dalton McGuinty and Tim Hudak have admitted to smoking marijuana. Do you think this question should be posed to the local candidates at an upcoming debate or is this issue not of relevance to voters?
SETNYK - I doubt McGuinty and Hudak having admitted smoking marijuana will resonate as an issue with the vast majority of voters. I don't think this is going to be an election issue at all. I don't think it is a relevant question to ask local candidates either. I really don't care what a local candidate may or may not have done during the Woodstock era. The following information is not to condone drug use, but to make a point. A stat on CBC suggests well over 10 million Canadians aged 15 or older have tried marijuana at least once. Many of these Canadians tried the drug in their youth. Should we label everyone who has smoked pot a criminal or should we reform the law? The Canadian Federal government almost decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in the mid-2000s. I would agree with this because the government would save hundreds of millions in law enforcement. Although it is a vice, and a deviant behaviour, it's not really criminal (it's not parallel to robbery, assault, or murder). However I agree it should be criminal to drive under the influence just like it is with alcohol, and I would also like to see the punishment for adults selling it to minors become even more severe.
BENNETT - Everyone over 30, can remember Bill Clinton admitting to smoking marijuana when he said, “But I did not inhale.” Of course, he also said that he did not have sex with that woman, but that is another topic for another day. The point is this - It didn’t bother anyone then, and it probably won’t matter to anyone now. It would be difficult to find anyone who doesn’t know people who tried it, or for that matter, tried it themselves. You might as well admit to it. Most people won’t believe you if you tell them you haven’t tried marijuana. Trust me, I know. I’ve never tried it, and people, including my kids, look at me like I am trying to sell them swamp land in Florida when I tell them. I think that the majority of people could care less what you did or didn’t do as a teenager. What they really want to know is - what kind of a person you are today, did you learn anything from your past experiences, and where do you stand on the issues that are important today. I know a lot of good people, with beautiful families and good jobs who are no better or worse than I am, just because they tried marijuana as a teenager. The one’s who never quit smoking that stuff, probably aren’t in a position to run for office anyway. This is a non issue.
2) Nomination races are often won by selling the most memberships and getting those people out to the Nomination Meeting. Elaine MacDonald was acclaimed by the NDP. Do you think, the Liberals in choosing Mark MacDonald and PCs in choosing Jim McDonell picked the candidate that gives them the best chance to win? Would Pat Finucan, Denis Sabourin or David Guy been a better selection?
SETNYK - Nominations races are an opportunity to grow membership, and the NDP loss that opportunity with their candidate being acclaimed, however Elaine MacDonald is a strong candidate. The flip-side is when a popular candidate doesn't win. I strongly suspect that the base of the local Liberal party overwhelmingly supported Pat Finucan. However Mark A MacDonald signed up hundreds of new people and bused them to the nomination meeting and he deserved to win. Mark signed up a very diverse group of people. Now if many of these new people are going to contribute to the party either as volunteers or financially, this is excellent news for the Liberals. However if the vast majority were just there to vote for Mark at the nomination, then that is just optics. In that case the party hasn't really grown, and traditional supporters may have been alienated in the process. Either way, time will tell. In regards to the Conservatives, I think there is blue solidarity, and there are no hard feelings with the David Guy camp over Jim's victory, or at least that is the impression I'm getting.
BENNETT - Elaine MacDonald was acclaimed as the NDP’s candidate, so that left us with only two nomination meetings. The Tory meeting was held in the spring and saw Jim McDonell get the nod, and the Liberal meeting saw Mark MacDonald get his party nomination in early summer. You could say that the current system has some flaws in it, where the candidate who sells the most party memberships, usually wins the nomination. While it is important to sign new members to your party, sometimes the best salesperson, isn’t the best politician. There is no arguing that Denis Sabourin, or Pat Finucan would have also made good candidates, they just didn’t sell as many memberships. So in this case, the better salesman won. I was told from people who were at that meeting, that Mark MacDonald even arranged transportation for his new members to get to the meeting to vote. That is a brilliant strategy if that was the case. Denis Sabourin clearly has the political knowledge and background to have represented the party well. Pat Finucan, while not having the same political background as Sabourin, also has many skills that would have made him a good Liberal candidate. At the end of the day, it comes down to making sure that if your running for a party’s nomination, you want to be the person who brought the most voters to that meeting. It doesn’t mean you have the best candidate for your party, but with this current system of electing a party’s nominee, we are only rewarding the best salesperson, not the best politician. We can only hope that this salesperson, turns out to be a good representative for our riding.