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Paper Candidates: The Mushrooms of Election Season

October 13th, 2018 by Michael Dyet


Hmmm, why would I vote for you for political office if your qualifications are paper thin?

We are a week away from the 2018 municipal election here in Ontario. Election signs in myriad sizes and colours have sprung up in the last few weeks, giving a whole new meaning to fall colours. Elections are money in the bank for sign printers.

I have about had my fill of the candidate’s rhetoric, the inevitable war of words and the whose-past-is-the-most shameful debate. News flash for all candidates: We all have skeletons in the closet. Get over it! I do not expect perfection, but a dose of discretion and decorum during the campaign goes a long ways for me.

One thing that continues to puzzle me is the sheer number of candidates and the disparity in their qualifications. Here in Brampton we have 7 candidates for mayor. In my ward, there are 7 candidates for city councilor, 3 for regional councilor and a dozen for school board trustee.

It is encouraging to see so many citizens stepping up to serve. But unfortunately, many of the candidates have little or no qualification for the position for which they are running. Why in heaven’s name would I vote for someone who is no more qualified than I am – and I am definitely not qualified.

It is a fundamental principle of our election system that any citizen in good standing can throw their hat in the ring. But I am inclined to believe there should be some kind of screening process that candidates must pass through before their names go on the ballot.

It does not have to be a complicated process – just a simple filter that ensures candidates have some sort of professional, academic or volunteer experience that prepares them to serve. After all, the role each of them is applying to fill has considerable accountability and the implications of screwing up are serious.

Yes, I know that this is unlikely to ever happen. If it was put in place, there would be considerable risk that the people given the authority to do the screening would lack objectivity and they would be at serious risk of corruption. More’s the pity.

Democracy is a wonderful thing and brings with it inviolable rights and privileges. But I do not believe it is in the best interests of democracy for every one and his brother to be able to put their names on the ballot regardless of their qualifications or lack thereof.

Alas, paper candidates are a fact of life we have to accept however irritating they may be. Like mushrooms that spring up in rainy seasons, who-the-hell-are-you candidates emerge for every election season and fade away quickly after election day.

By all means, do vote. But make sure the candidate you select has the skills to do the job.

~ Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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