Friday, 11 June 2010

The MMF president is a fraud

Not a big surprise:

It appears that David Chartrand has easily won re-election as president of the Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. After all polls reported Thursday night, Chartrand had collected 3,352 votes to 665 for challenger Frank Godon.

Chartrand said the turnout was low — there were 52,718 eligible voters — but attributed that to the low profile by the last-minute candidacy of his opponent, Frank Godon.
Frank's response in the comment section of that story:
So David wants to blame the low turn out on me? Not the fact that Metis people from across Manitoba told me that they weren't voting because the MMF does nothing for them. Not the fact that this was the fastest called election with little room for people who wanted to run to get their nominations in. Not the fact that there were only 37 days of campaigning available. This was a protest vote plain and simple - the people are fed up with the MMF and its dictatorship style of administration.
We here at the Peanut endorsed Frank on May 6 (I am sure that gained him, maybe, zero votes) so we're somewhat disappointed in the outcome. Is there any legitimacy to his comments? Hard for me to say as I am not an eligible MMF voter, but there has to be something wrong with the process when voter turnout is less than 10%.

Some clues to the low turnout might be found on the MMF web site, where the election received second billing to, um, Elsie Bear's Kitchen:

I took that screenshot on May 6 -- one month and 5 days before the election. There was a basic list of candidates, and little else. No instructions on how to vote or where to vote, or advanced polling, or anything like that. Not that I could find. You would figure that the election of the MMF president would be a pretty big deal to the MMF. You would figure they would have profiles of all of the candidates, where they stand on the issues, etc .. so that the Metis people of Manitoba can best judge who represents their views. I guess it's hard to put that stuff together when you only get started one month before you finish.

This is a failure on the part of the MMF to motivate the people they claim to speak for. Tell me: what duty does the government have to consult with David Chartrand, when only 6% of the Metis people agreed to have him represent them?

Keep this in mind next time you see the MMF taking a stand in your friendly neighbouhood newspaper.

** edit: fixed some bad math **


Mr. Nobody said...

Just fucking incredible. Maybe its time we look at somehow "paying people to come out and vote. I don't know. Its pretty disappointing to see results like this and even during other elections. I have no solution to this problem but one must be found. Maybe its to make the ballot more accesible. Maybe its to stretch the voting period to a wekk or more. Maybe its to have smaller elections riding by riding. At the municipal /provincial/Federal levels we can certainly tie a small tax credit offering tied to your vote. I Don't know.

But for christ sakes, at some point we have to stop accepting elections with low voter turnout.

Prairie Topiary said...

I don't know enough about the MMF's leadership or its current election to comment on them but, if the numbers you display are right, I think the turnout would be 4,017/52,718 or 7.6% rather than the <1% you report. Granted, that's still an awfully low voter turnout figure.

cherenkov said...

@ PT ... You are very correct. I wrote it Friday night after having a few pops. I realized later that I made a mistake, but I couldn't get back to my computer to fix it. I was hoping no one would notice :-).

@Mr.N: I think a much longer campaign period would be necessary for any challenger to have a shot a getting the message out to a base that is geographically wide spread, probably apathetic, and possibly cynical from previous experience. Moreover, if the MMF were really an open and democratic organization, it would make every effort to get the message from each of the candidates out to the voters through their web site, through publications like First Nations Voice and so on. I have a copy of May 2010 First Nations Voice (picked it up to read on the bus one day), and there is nothing in there about the election. Nothing. Maybe the press is to blame too. FNV is a pretty crappy paper that just seems to print whatever it is given, but Grassroots News (June 1 edition) has a "story" on page 2 that is basically just a giant free advertisement for Chartrand. Is doesn't even mention the challengers by name, unless I blinked and missed it. Just terrible biased reporting. Why would you bother voting if you don't even know the names of the challengers?

Gustav Nelson said...

Something has to be said about the membership itself as well. I will admit I do not have full knowledge of how their membership works, but I have a few friends that have "metis blood" in them from three or four generations ago from only one side of the family, that have their status cards. How does that even make sense? They particularily don't care about the heritage or culture and only have done so because they would like the benefits that you get with that card.
This probably wouldn't change too much in terms of voter turnout, but it just seems pretty much anyone can get status to inflate their membership.

Mr. Nobody said...

Gustav, maybe thats the solution, forfeiture of your status card and all privileges associated with it. Only when you vote is the card reinstated. I mean, we do it with licenses of all manners, why is the most important privilege and right ( should it become a requirement? ) be any less important then say a gun license.

And the same could be said of any election. Voting should be mandatory, Mind you, the process should take a little longer to allow people to comply. Alternate avenues of casting ballots should be explored. Even a phone in if security issues can be developed.

this is the way I look at it, if a bunch of kids dies in a trench sucking in mustard gas for my "rights", the very least I could do is vote.

The right to vote doesn't equate with not showing up to cast your vote. Even if you spoil your ballot , the very least you should have to do is get your arse off the couch and respect the institution.

Apathy is very dangerous for democratic society's. If enough apathy exists, democracy can be sabotaged.

cherenkov said...

Maybe somebody reading this blog can confirm, but I think the criteria for getting your card was tightened up several years ago. I don't think a fourth generation Metis can get status anymore.

Even if that's true, however, there are still all those who may have received their cards earlier, without really having a stake in Metis culture.

unclebob said...

The voter apathy problem is pervasive at all levels. one might try to mitigate it either through imposition.... like must vote or lose health care or opportunity ....50% more pension for voters

I think there could be a nice discretionary fix without such dangerous precedents about your first photo radar ticket or parking ticket free for every voter?

Anonymous said...

Metis person do not have a status cards..only membership cards. A status card is a certificate of Indian Status under the Indian Act. Metis are Metis..not Status Indians. Geez folks if you are going to write about something do your homework..don't be a lindor...

cherenkov said...

Anon: I meant it in a generic sense: ie. status as a member, or 'officially recognized as..'

@ bob: we shouldn't have to bribe people to vote, but I wouldn't say no to coffee and donuts...

I like the old rule: if you don't vote, don't bitch.

Anonymous said...

The MMF card basically identifies you as a member of the MMF - no privileges are attached, so therefore none can be removed. Unless jigging to fiddle music is considered a privilege..

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