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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vote, But Not Like Sheep

Posted on Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 10:43 AM

We have a federal election happening on May 2nd. I live in the Halifax West riding (i.e. Fairview, Clayton Park, Bedford, Hammonds Plains, Timberlea, etc.), and for years my riding has elected Geoff Regan (Liberal) as its MP. From all reports, he has been a decent bureaucrat, but I rarely recall hearing about his activities in the news. Every time there is an election, he wins Halifax West by a wide margin.

So once again, it's election time and so I figured I would try to at least find out why he is so popular. I know he is part of the famous Regan family. That probably doesn't hurt his cause. And Nova Scotia has typically supported the Liberal party. This also likely helps. But then I decided I would see what issues Mr. Regan believes are important in Halifax West. I went to his Facebook page. No issues mentioned there. I then visited both his web sites. Certainly, there was a bit of content about the Liberal Party of Canada, some Harper-bashing and some information on broader issues he has worked on in the past. Even his Twitter feed has no references to the issues he would like to tackle on behalf of his constituents.

So what about his vision for Halifax West? There are a lot of people in this riding who are struggling against rising energy and food prices. Does Mr. Regan have an opinion about this? We're not sure. Urban sprawl in this riding is creating environmental issues and problems for commuters. We're building more highways and overpasses instead of looking for ways to get cars off the road. The transit system is barely adequate enough to serve outlying communities. Schools in this riding lack funding, are facing closure and are constantly struggling to raise money for basic supplies. The majority of services and facilities offered in Halifax West are only accessible to its wealthier members. Those with lesser means are being left behind.

Does Geoff Regan have an opinion on any of this? I have inquired via his Facebook page but have received no response. I'm sure he considers me a mere nuisance (damn, those pesky voters with all their questions!). But seriously, if you're a politician and you're running for office, shouldn't the issues that directly impact your constituents be your primary focus? Two of other the candidates (Dr. Thomas Trappenberg - Green, Gregor Ash - NDP) Mr. Regan is running against have been more than happy to answer my questions.

So I ask those of you in Halifax West are planning to vote on May 2nd: Do you know who you are voting for? Are you going to vote for a candidate who expresses an interest in addressing the issues in the riding or are you just going to vote for "the devil you know"? Maybe it's time to ask some hard questions of your candidates. Vote for the candidate who best represents your community's interests and will be a strong advocate on our behalf. Make these candidates work for your vote. And yes, vote, because not voting is wrong.

In Halifax West, Geoff Regan might well win the riding without discussing a single relevant issue that hasn't been handed to him from head office. I guess if this strategy is working for him so perhaps I shouldn't blame him for running with it. However, it bothers me how the majority people in Halifax West vote blindly. They never stop to examine the issues and just vote for the name or the party. Get educated people! You have options. —Raland

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