In an election a “parachute” candidate usually means someone from outside the constituency has been "dropped" into the area because a suitable local candidate was not found. In the best of cases it means someone who has some knowledge of the area - perhaps a former resident, or someone who has worked extensively in the area. Unfortunately far too often it means a candidate who is nothing but a name on a ballot, one who doesn’t show up for debates or even evince much interest in the riding they have indicated they would like to represent.
Before I continue I should disclose that I am the President
of the newly formed Alberta Party Constituency Association for the riding of
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. When we formed the constituency association we had
a discussion about a potential candidate, and we determined that any candidate
we would put in front of voters had to meet certain criteria. They had to be
local, they had to credible and they had to be electable, meaning that anyone
marking an X next to their name did so because they truly believed this
individual could represent them. It is a shame that other parties in the
province (cough, cough, Alberta Liberal Party) could not do the same and
instead chose to parachute in two candidates, including Melinda Hollis in the Fort McMurray-Conklin riding.
If you frequent social media the name may ring a bell. In
a recent civic election in Edmonton Ms. Hollis also appeared as a candidate,
but during her candidacy some troubling things came to light. First was the accusation that she had been involved in plagiarism, with an allegation that
she reproduced a document written by someone else in a blog post where it appears she
neglected to credit the original author. As a blogger I find this particularly
worrisome, as all who share written work created by others, wherever it is shared and
how, need to give credit appropriately. This is perhaps even more crucial in a
medium like blogs, which are still seeking recognition as a credible source of
And then there is the incident on Twitter for which I
remember Ms. Hollis. In a discussion about the hours politicians work it would
appear she suggested that parents who work 60 hours a week are putting their children at increased risk for addiction and self-harm. As a single parent to a
young adult I recall being incensed by this, as many parents must work long
hours in this community to afford to be here, and manage to continue to be
engaged, active and involved parents despite these hours.
It seems this individual has attracted some controversy in
the recent past, and yet this is the candidate the Alberta Liberal Party has
decided to parachute into our community. From what I can find their candidate has no real ties to the community nor any significant investment in our region
or our future. It would appear the party is following the concept that any
candidate is better than no candidate on the ballot, a political fallacy if
ever there was one as an inappropriate candidate will not only not succeed but
can potentially damage your brand and reduce your future chances of success.
I am incredibly disappointed at the disrespect for our
community as displayed by the Alberta Liberal Party. Dropping a candidate into
a community is risky enough, but to drop in a candidate that has no apparent ties to our
region is, quite simply, offensive to the hard working people of our communities
who deserve local, credible and electable candidates. Perhaps they thought that
the people of this region just aren’t paying attention but we do and we are,
and to suggest we deserve anything less but a candidate that is top-shelf, preferably local but at the very least familiar with our region and cognizant of both our opportunities and challenges, credible and
electable isn’t likely to go down well in the region responsible for
a good deal of the economic prosperity of this province.
The trouble with parachute drops is sometimes the parachute
fails to deploy – and in this case a crash landing was guaranteed. We deserve a soldier on the ground, and not a parachute failure.