Monday, March 23, 2009

When is a majority not a majority?

copied and pasted from the Gulf News Online Website:

Majority vote to leave Grand Bruit
Province says not enough support idea to proceed
The Gulf News

A majority of residents want government's help to resettle Grand Bruit, but the province is saying that's not enough.

When the results of last month's resettlement vote were tallied, 26 out of 31 eligible voters expressed an interest in financial assistance to close out the community.

Four ballots were opposed to relocation, and a fifth person returned a letter instead of the ballot that also opposed relocation.

That means 26 out of 30 voters, or 87 per cent, want to resettle.

However, the provincial government said that doesn't qualify as the "virtually unanimous" support it requires to move forward with the proposal.

The province is also counting the letter as a 'no' ballot, lowering the percentage of resident in favour to 84 per cent.

Government has said it will not proceed further unless there is a higher level of support. If that happens, another vote will be held.

Residents who voted to ask for help in leaving the community are upset by the results, according to Cynthia Billard, head of Grand Bruit's Local Service District.

"We feel government should accept 'significant support,'" she said.

Mrs. Billard said going through the voting process hasn't been easy on the community's residents.

She said if virtually everyone needed to agree, she doesn't understand why government representatives would continue with the process when they knew there was some opposition to the idea of resettlement from the initial meetings.

Mrs. Billard also questioned what the province means by 'virtually unanimous' support. She said the residents were told significant support would be needed but were never given a concrete figure or percentage.

Kelvin Parsons, MHA for Burgeo-La Poile, said the province should use the 87 per cent figure and accept it for sufficient support to proceed with resettlement.

"This is not a questionable decision; this is the vast majority," he said, adding the person who didn't return their ballot should not be counted at all.

Mr. Parsons said he has received a call from one resident who voted no, but has already changed his mind. He said that brings the percentage of residents in favour of proceeding to 90 per cent.

The MHA said he intends to pressure government to go ahead with the next steps in the resettlement process. He said no one likes to think about the death of another rural community, but the residents in this case have made their wishes clear.

Six decades ago we saw an entire Dominion dissolve on just over 52 percent of a vote. I don't know what way i would of voted if i was a resident of this little community but i do think the end is near.

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