At least, that’s what Elections Canada says.
If you ask anybody in New Westminster who’s shown up to all-candidates meetings they’d tell you there isn’t a Conservative candidate.
And that’s because Ms. Ellis has yet to show up.
It’s a theme that’s playing out across the country: Conservative candidates and their managers either give reporters the run-around or don’t show up to all-candidates meetings (in Saskatoon, Prince George and Williams Lake, Calgary, and London, to take four examples). There’s a cone of silence dropped upon them from up high, and it really pisses me off.
It’s undemocratic. Hell, I’d say it’s anti-democratic. It spits in the face of why we’re having these elections. We’re voting on people to represent us, the citizens, in the House of Commons. They’re supposed to be responsible to us, and part of being responsible is actually showing up to speak with and listen to your constituents.
It’s disrespectful. Organizers of all-candidates meetings put in hours to get everybody set up. They set the agenda, reserve a space to hold the meeting, set up equipment, advertise, and do a lot more behind the scenes. It’s not easy, and it’s all volunteer time. And then there are the people who show up at the meeting to ask questions and hear what the candidates have to say. By not showing up to the meetings, Conservative candidates are wasting everybody’s time, and when you have 70 people showing up, and lots more following along at home through Twitter, that’s a lot of time you’re wasting and a lot of people you’re disrespecting.
It’s cowardly. The House of Commons is a venue for debate. For someone to want to be there, yet avoid debate in their own city, that just shows that they don’t really care at all about the people they want to represent, all they want is that plum job. They want to be a faithful back-bencher, collecting the $167,000 per year salary. Debate? What’s that?
I reject the premise that the blame for this behaviour falls squarely on the Conservative party. Yes, Ms. Ellis is young and inexperienced. So is Kyle Routledge, but he shows up. So is Sasha Ramnarine, but he shows up. (This is where Mr. Ramnarine thanks me for calling him young.) Neither of them are expected to win, but they show up. They answer questions, they shake hands, they talk with people, even though neither of them has experience being a politician.
No, Ms. Ellis takes the blame here. She is the candidate. She put her name forward. She wants to represent us in Ottawa. And she is the one who ultimately decides what she does. She can have backbone and say to her handler “I’m going to this event.” And I completely understand that if she did show some backbone and stood up for herself that she’d probably lose some kind of perks that come along with toeing the party line.
But that doesn’t excuse her invisibility. That doesn’t excuse her disrespect. That doesn’t excuse her from her responsibilities towards the people she wants to vote for her. Her entire job is based upon representing her constituents, and to disrespect your constituents just so you might gain some favor with the party? To hell with that.