Monday, April 16, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Well, its Monday morning and the media, joined by the Green and Liberal leaders must be patting themselves on the back for putting in his place, the aspirations of a democratically selected local Green candidate, Kevin Potvin. Mr Potvin, five years ago, in a vulnerable state, exposed his feelings about 9/11.

No doubt the expressions of feelings which Mr Potvin shared is viewed by many citizens as unusual. And these people should have the right to express their feelings as does Kevin.

However, does all the hoopla surrounding Kevin's feelings, warrant, stripping the grassroots members of the Van-Kingsway Green Riding Association their representative? One that they chose in democratic Assembly, to duly lead them? Well in the mind of Green leader, Elizabeth May--well yes it does.

While I could endlessly go on about the democratic shortcomings of all mainstream Party leaders, I shall reserve judgement. Except in the case of Elizabeth May and Mr Dion, I will raise my voice.

Too often, leaders after being selected by party members, think they are god-like. It just needs pointing out to them that we are voting for a Leader who's vision for the party most closely resembles our own political values and principles. We are not turning all our power over to you, or even for that matter, expressing our blind allegience to you. We expect you to give voice to our collective vision and values. Remembers leaders, we are not choosing you to be our God.

Unfortunately, in many cases, Leaders believe they have autocratic rights to instill their own ways of doing things once chosen by the party as Leader. Often, they do this without thought for the membership. After all, they know what is best for the party or so they think.

Politicians or members of a party often go along with the wishes of the leader because we are told, to not do so, only benefits the opposing parties. Too often, the members and their representatives are silenced as influential backroom strategists, power brokers and advisers take over, who most of the time, pay no heed to the grassroots.

Case in point, the recent actions of Ms May and Mr Dion.

Ms May, in efforts to get rid of a candidate, in the case of Mr. Potvin, who she believes has unorthodox feelings, states, "I won't sign off on his nomination", thereby denying Mr Potvin, the ability to represent the wishes of the grassroots riding association which selected him as their representative. Talk about unorthodox ways, Ms May

Mr. Dion not to be left out, also demonstrated his unorthodox manner, when he reached a pact with Ms May not to run a Liberal candidate against her in her riding of Central Nova. The agreement also stipulates, signed on behalf of Green members, without their consent, also not to run a local Green candidate against Mr Dion in his home riding. Of course, these two leaders in undertaking this agreement, paid little concern to the riding associations (the grassroots members) who want the democratic right to select and run their own candidate.

The general members of all parties must now be thinking exactly what does their membership in a party entitle them to?

I, for one, am quite tired of this Closed Club mentality of backroom players and leaders dictating to their respective membership what is best for us.

As the Vice-President of the federal Vancouver East Liberal Riding Association, where influential strategists recently conducted an undemocratic nomination meeting, to put in place their preferred candidate, by not informing 50 percent of the members of the meeting, I feel absolute disgust.

I know many potential candidates, and politicians who echo my sentiments are fearful of speaking up because they know the costs of doing so is too great. Or the punishment is too extreme. Of course, influential backroom players rely and feed off, the many political opportunists and operatives within parties, to stifle democratic debate.

Its time that grassroots members of all political parties and citizens from all political stripes join together to oppose these undemocratic shenanigans which go on all the time within our parties.

And you ask what does this have to do with Kevin Potvin?

Well, I hope we can use the example of Ms May putting the boots to Kevin Potvin, whether you agree with Mr Potvin's feelings or not, as a rallying point of what we despise and see as glaring democratic deficits within our party systems. Of course, the undemocratic pact between Mr Dion and Ms May is a glaring example of why we need to speak out.

As for Kevin, I always say when your kicked around a bit and perhaps a bit down to pick yourself up and get back in the race. So I say its time for a party and I say lets call it Kevin's party.

And Kevin's party can be the impetus which brings us all together to express 'Grassroots Citizens Opposed to a Closed Club Liberal, NDP, GREEN and Conservative Party, are here to stay.

How about it Kevin?

Jamie Lee Hamilton


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