Much ado about moderation


by Nikki Mantell on October 21, 2009

Whoo-wee. People are hot and bothered about this Chelsea, Quebec election.

And boy do we love it here at the Low Down.

Not only did the “Mantell personal non grata for debate” story last week give us the excuse for another Low Down first (running a headline in Latin!) but it’s fueled no end of lively and entertaining correspondence.

Rest assured readers, I did not take offence to the candidates’ requests to replace me as the Oct. 21 debate’s moderator for fears of bias. Former federal Liberal party nominee Greg Fergus wrote in (subject line: “Good Grief!”) to say that he thought he had it tough as an aspiring politician. Friends of my parents ask, “are you ok, dear?” and other readers have sent encouraging messages to ignore the “whining” and get down to the important business democratic debate.

Still the emails roll in. In a back and forth one candidate continues to call me “stubborn” for not acknowledging that I am in cahoots with the “belly of the beast” that is local commerce.

And debate committee member Chris Mick resigned in an indignant huff from that group stating that he is “extremely disappointed that (I) would use me, the debate committee, and the Chamber of Commerce as a fishing lure to make this story”. (Sorry Chris, I’m sure this second hook probably stings too.)

The irony of candidates campaigning on platforms of better transparency and then complaining about having to answer questions from the media was not lost on us and made for some good newsroom knee-slapping.

I wonder if Steve Paikin of TVO or CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti had this much fun when they moderated the last two federal debates.

But I’ll say this – when Chelsea wakes up from a civic affairs slumber, it sure comes to with a start. This election is full of excitement, and we at the LD applaud everyone who has the guts to stick their necks out, gaffes of political newbies and all.

(And yes, I’ve been allowed to stay on as moderator, at the event that takes place the same day this edition is published.)

Other races

Chelsea gets a lot of ink for having the most candidates at a crucial time in its development, but there are important races to the north.

La Peche: In a strange twist, a Wolf Lake resident is taking on the man who has been called “The Mayor of Wakefield” for that seat ­- and on a campaign of taking services (i.e.: the CLSC) from the east and putting them in the west. Odd, considering Masham (and area) and Wakefield have been battling it out for cash and infrastructure for years.

Kaz: That four-way mayoral race is reportedly pitting the old guard against new winds of change. Rumours are flying about vote splitting as a means to leave Ota Hora, a serious contender, on the sidelines.

Low: Mike Francis leaves a big seat to fill after 16 as Low’s mayor. That tiny (population-wise) rural municipality has been lucky to have such an intelligent, genuinely thoughtful and progressive leader. Fay Ramsay-Pinard and Morris O’Oconnor both appear to recognize this and residents can rest assured that “more of the same” isn’t a bad election promise.