Not having a full slate of candidates is embarrassing

This column has been altered to reflect that the NDP have Carter Antoine running in Yorkton-Melville.

I’ve been sitting in variations of this chair for several elections so my position on safe elections is quite clear. I hate them. More than that, I hate it when parties let them happen.

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Right now, in Yorkton-Melville, the Liberal party has a blank space where a candidate should be. I assume that by the time the nomination runs out, they will put some sort of name on a ballot, possibly even by the time this hits print. But the fact is that they’re late, and that’s embarrassing, it gives the impression they’re just giving up on the riding.

The reason I hate it when a candidate has an easy ride has nothing to do with the candidate or their party. This has nothing to do with who I may or may not vote for – which I’m not going to tell you, by the way – because that’s not why I feel it matters. Instead, it is entirely a matter of voter engagement.

It is easy to just dismiss the election if you think it’s a foregone conclusion. If you like the candidate with the incumbent party, you think, fine, they’re just going to ride into office anyway and you don’t have to worry about it. You can just shut everything off and ignore it, and don’t bother voting.

On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of the incumbent, you might think, whatever, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway, so you ignore everything, assume it’s all futile, shut everything off and ignore it. Again, you don’t bother voting.

Voter engagement goes down, voter turnout decreases, and at a certain point, why even bother with democracy? If everyone is just going to ignore what’s happening why even bother with voting at all?

That frustrates me, and it’s part of the reason why I’m always against a safe seat. I want to see whoever wins on Oct. 21 to have earned it. I want them to have run a solid campaign, worked hard to connect with voters, showed up at things like the Chamber of Commerce All Candidates Forum and other events which give people a chance to compare them to their rivals, and really work hard over the next month to win over the population. And whatever I, personally, think of their campaign, I want to feel as though they earned it.

This is nothing against Cathay Wagantall, the incumbent MP. She is ready to campaign, as she should be. And I hope that she’s running her campaign as though there are challengers all around her, rather than it being a foregone conclusion. I hope every single incumbent MP in the country is running like they have to fight to stay in their seats.

It’s also nothing against Ryan Schultz, Stacey Wiebe, or Carter Antoine who are new challengers. I hope they’re working as hard as they can to put in a strong campaign, get their name out there, and find supporters.

In fact, I applaud all of them, because they are already candidates. I want all three to put in the best campaign they can, and I hope they’re working as hard as possible to convince you, me and everyone else that they’re the right person to head to Ottawa.

Though, that said, Antoine took a long time to get on the NDP's website, which is a real problem when getting support in the modern era.

But the fact that a major party is not ready to campaign in this riding is an embarrassment, and I hope that whoever they nominate hits the ground running and campaign hard, and make me, as a voter, forget their tardiness.

Because whoever heads to Ottawa after this election, they aren’t going to have an easy four years. They shouldn’t have an easy month when they’re trying to make that trip in the first place.

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