EDITORIAL: Federal voters deserve choice

Political parties have yet to announce candidates to oppose Conservative candidate Dianne Watts, but the electorate deserves more choice

By the time nominations close for the Oct. 19 federal election, voters will have just three weeks to decide who they should entrust as their next member of Parliament.

Likely, however, most will have already been forming their opinions for some time.

Which makes us wonder why the major political parties haven’t really been vying for our vote locally in the newly redrawn South Surrey-White Rock riding.

It’s as if Canada’s opposition parties have decided to concede the riding in favour of Dianne Watts and the Conservatives. With a scant 5½ months to go until the big showdown, there’s only the one proclaimed candidate for the area, formerly held for four terms (as South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale) by Conservative Russ Hiebert – who indicated more than a year ago he would not seek re-election.

The Liberals and the NDP have promised a candidate, and the Greens are expected to, as well, but, as of this writing, Watts has no official challengers – and the clock is ticking.

Perhaps riding association executives are convinced that whomever they confirm will be such a magnificent choice that the electorate will be instantly swayed. If that’s the case, it’s time for a reality check. It takes time for a candidate to break through as a personality established in the public consciousness, let alone gain traction and trust.

Perhaps they are cowed by the area’s reputation as a Conservative stronghold, not to mention Watts’ record as a popular Surrey mayor. If so, they sell themselves – and voters – short.

The opposition parties say there many valid issues on which they are prepared to challenge the Conservative government’s record and perceived agenda. Their members have been swift to criticize the riding’s former representative for being unresponsive to the electorate, other than to assiduously trumpet his party’s line.

It would appear they have been squandering – for many months, now – an opportunity to hammer their viewpoints home, and establish a candidate’s presence on the local front.

At a time when even informal polls seem to indicate that half of the electorate have already made up their minds which way they will vote, this is more than reticence or organizational disarray – it’s an abdication of responsibility.

No matter which way South Surrey-White Rock ultimately votes, the local electorate deserves a genuine choice, rather than victory by default.

As for the subsequent election, we suggest prospective candidates begin making themselves known on Oct. 20.