Parker Donham, election outlaw

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You may have heard Elections Nova Scotia’s allegation that I violated the province’s election act Saturday. I don’t believe I did,  but however the controversy turns out, you may want to know how I got myself in this putative pickle.

On Saturday, I drove to Halifax, where I will do election night commentary for CTV. I had misread the yellow election card that came in the mail, and mistakenly thought I could vote Saturday at any returning office. Turns out that option expired last Thursday.

At the Blues Mills polling station, the helpful returning officer informed me the only two places I could vote that day were the advance poll at Geroge’s River and the returning office in Alder Point. The closer of the two, George’s River, was 104 kms back in the direction from whence I had come. This would add 2-1/2 hours to what should have been a 3-hour drive to Halifax. I considered skipping the vote altogether, but as it happens, I have an unusually keen interest in the outcome of the election in Victoria-The Lakes.

Keith_BainI have known MLA Keith Bain for 40 years. I believe he preceded me as president of the Boularderie Home and School Assoc. For many years, he was Chief of the Big Bras d’Or Fire Dept. in which capacity he helped my neighbours set up the Ross Ferry Volunteer Fire Dept. He served several terms on the Cape Breton-Victoria District School Board. He was the storekeeper in a one-store village, its own form of community service.

I cannot recall an important community meeting in the last 40 years at which Keith was not present and making a positive contribution. Never unpleasantly partisan, always trying to make things better for his community. Last year, he and Liberal Kelly Regan were the MLAs who most consistently kept the heat on Denise Peterson-Rafuse over Talbot House. In short, a decent man with an impeccable record of community service.

Running against him is Pam Eyking,* who has no comparable record of community service and whom I have never seen at a public meeting. Absent that fact she is married to Liberal MP Mark Eyking, there is no possibility she would be the nominee. I like Mark, and I have voted for him more than once, but I find Pam’s decision to run for the Liberals opportunistic and unbecoming.

Mark.PamA Liberal landslide could possibly sweep Pam into office. That’s the thing about landslides. They take out a lot of good people, along with the unpopular government that is their target.

As I sped through Iron Mines, Iona, Christmas Island, and Beaver Cove, I was annoyed at myself for not voting earlier, and annoyed at Pam for getting me riled up enough to drive 100 km out of my way.

“Why am I going to all this trouble,” I asked myself. “Because I want to be able to tell people I voted for Keith.”

As I approached George’s River, that idea morphed into a plan to show people I voted for Keith—by taking a snapshot of my ballot, and sharing it on social media.

I gave no thought to violating the NS Election Act, let alone testing it. My only thought was to come up with an effective way to make a political statement to my fellow electors in Victoria-The Lakes.

Elections Nova Scotia’s response is quite possibly wrong in law, and to my ear, disproportionate in tone. I would have thought the agency had more important matters to tend to three days before an election.

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* New Democrat John Frank Toney will poll well in Eskasoni and Wagmatcook, but he has no realistic chance of winning the seat. Nor does Stemmer MacLeod.


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