It is not uncommon to hear the word ‘slate’ used in conjunction with an election. In fact, in the time I have lived in Princeton (I moved here in 1986) I have heard this term come up with each and every municipal election I’ve seen here. A slate is an interesting election tool that happens to be more common than you may think. Before I get into that, let me explain what a slate is.
The Definition of A Slate
The simple definition of a slate is that it is a group of candidates with a common platform that are seeking election in a multi-seat board or council. The similarities in platform can be the result of the candidates all being members of the same political party. The common platform may be from the candidates sharing the same position on issues or some other similarity.
How Common Are Slates In Canadian Municipal Elections?
Actually, this is an interesting question. In Canada, the major federal and provincial political parties do not have municipal equivalents. In other words, you won’t see someone in Princeton seeking election representing a party you would normally associate with a candidate seeking to represent us as our MLA (provincial government) or MP (federal government).
However, several of the larger cities in Canada have municipal political parties. Vancouver and Montreal are two examples where slates are commonplace. It is also in these larger population bases where it is likely beneficial for the candidates on a slate to run together. It means saving on the costs of political advertising for one thing but there are other ‘promises’ in place.
A candidate who joins a slate in a big city municipal election does so with the understanding that he or she will not run against another member of that slate for the same political seat or position. It also means that if elected, the members of the slate would agree to vote together on some or all issues. Slates are also temporary in nature existing primarily during the election campaign only.
Where Are Political Slates Most Effective?
It is not out of the ordinary to see slates used at the student union level. In fact, slates have become so popular and effective in these elections that they are considered a controversial element in Canadian student politics. This is why slates have the interesting distinction of being fully recognized in several student associations or completely banned by others.
The interesting thing to note about slates at the university level is their success rate. In larger student unions where slates are not banned but accepted as part of the election culture, they do well. That is likely due to the fact that in this kind of setting a student slate can take on the elements of a political party which often results in re-election for several terms.
Slates In Princeton Municipal Elections
As recent as late in 2017 I heard talk of a slate of candidates being formed for the upcoming October 2018 Municipal Election. Whether or not that is still in the works is beyond me but, as I’ve already stated, the word has been kicked around as long as I have lived here. However, I do not recall such an election tool actually being used to win seats on Town Council.
Well, one of the reasons why I chose to announce my intentions early going into this election was to show I am running independently. I have no party affiliation nor do I have now, nor do I intend to in the future, have a ‘running mate’ or group of candidates I will be running with. I am completely independent. I intend to run my campaign as an individual and not part of a slate.
I am pointing this out simply because should a slate emerge going into the October 2018 Municipal Election you need to remember one very important thing as a local voter. You can vote for anyone you want. You do not have to vote for a slate. If anything, you should be voting for those candidates you feel will represent you and work well together to get things done.
You will find one similarity between slates and the upcoming local election. That will be the issues. Each candidate will have a list of issues that concern them. Expect most of the candidates to have similar lists. The aquatic centre, KVR, growth within the community and infrastructure improvements will likely be on the minds of all candidates. Your job is to pick the ones you want to work on those matters – and can hopefully achieve many goals by working as a team.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.