time to accentuate the positive

Yukoners should support Liberal Larry Bagnell. Did I say that out loud? Aw, shoot ... you know, I vowed not to do that again. It makes folks cross.

Yukoners should support Liberal Larry Bagnell.

Did I say that out loud?

Aw, shoot … you know, I vowed not to do that again.

It makes folks cross.

Apparently some people think a newspaper should be neutral — opinionless and mute on the most divisive issues facing the community.

Some believe this so strongly, they get all abusive and threatening and stuff.

They even take it out on my colleagues and family, who have absolutely nothing to do with words flowing from my fingertips.

And that can rattle a guy. It can make him flinchy.

Then, earlier this week, I got this phone call.

It came from a civil servant. She wanted to comment on the election, but was worried there would be ramifications.

She was freaked out by her managers, to the point that she thought they were monitoring her outgoing e-mails and, possibly, her phone use.

Now, justified or not, that’s a lot of fear.

Nevertheless, she drafted her letter. And she asked a friend in a less visible job to sign her name to it. She was upfront about it.

I thanked her, and told her that wasn’t going to happen. But I’d consider running her letter without her name.

And then I started thinking … about freedom of speech, and opinions and fear.

This illegal and unnecessary election has been a tough one to come to grips with.

This is a small town, and there are good people running.

New Democrat Ken Bolton, the race’s Johnny Come Lately, is a former colleague and mentor.

Green Party candidate John Streicker is an acquaintance, but in those few meetings the engineer’s made a hell of an impression.

He’s razor sharp on climate change issues (one of the biggest facing our nation and the world) and he’s principled.

His campaign team (only two parties knocked on my door this year — Green and Liberal) is comprised of people I like and respect. Some of ‘em I’ve crossed swords with, literally (I got an ugly bruise, as I remember), and others are neighbours.

Both candidates and their supporters have put hours into this election to make the nation better — socially conscious, environmentally sound and to safeguard its natural wealth, among other things.

They have conducted themselves with dignity, honour and respect.

Unfortunately, both are long shots in this election.

Bolton’s New Democrat machine is not the same one that dominated the territory for Audrey McLaughlin. It’s a shadow of its former self and, as a result, has little chance on Tuesday.

Same for the Green Party.

The Greens have a good candidate in Streicker and a compelling leader in Elizabeth May.

May’s no-nonsense, fact-checker performance during the federal leaders debate was one of its highlights, and Canada would be well served if she was in the national Parliament.

But the national Green Party is still an unknown, in its infancy. This election represents its first steps, nothing more.

And there’s a lot at stake for the nation.

There are two competing visions — one based on tolerance, respect, artistic freedom, progressive social policy and responsible economic and environmental stewardship, essentially making Canada more competitive through the promotion of energy efficiency. That’s the Liberal pitch, in a nutshell.

The other plays to fears about crime (baseless, as crime is dropping throughout Canada), military spending, trickle-down economics, and little else. This is the Conservative campaign, which has been short of details and long on US-style attack ads.

The race for the Yukon’s seat is between Bagnell and Conservative Darrell Pasloski.

One of these guys will win the seat.

Like the other guys, I know Pasloski.

He ranks among my favourite pharmacists. He’s helped take the edge off my chronic arthritis. So, believe me, this election is causing me some pain.

But a decent pharmacist isn’t necessarily a good politician.

Pasloski has debased himself with a campaign strategy based on evasion and angry and misleading mailouts.

He’s spent a lot of money on the campaign, more than $110,000 by our rough math, but we still know little about the man or his vision for the territory and the nation.

Instead, he’s spent an inordinate amount of time and money tearing down his opponents and their ideas.

As such, it has mirrored Stephen Harper’s national campaign.

Vitriol and negativity is not what the nation needs.

The Yukon deserves better. Canada deserves better.

Bagnell has eight years of experience in Ottawa.

He’s served the territory well, bringing his constituents’ concerns to Ottawa, regardless of their political affiliation.

Bagnell’s non partisan approach has been lauded by members on both sides of the house, many of whom peg him for one of the hardest-working MPs on Capital Hill.

There’s no good reason to sack him, and his record has provided lots of reasons to keep him around.

So Yukoners should endorse him on Tuesday.

Some might suggest this is meddling.

But it’s not.

It’s newspapering.

The Harper government has worked hard to silence dissent in Canada — artists, civil servants, health providers, lawyers and media have all been bullied and treated with contempt by the Conservative government.

People’s jobs have been threatened. These days, as I was reminded this week, even mid-level civil servants fear reprisal if they speak up.

Sometimes you have to stand against that.

In this election, given our electoral system, Bagnell represents that choice for Yukoners.

And if a newspaper can’t say that, who can?

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