Getting ready for prime time

4 Apr

Finding information as basic as just who is running, and where, in the May 2 federal election has been surprisingly difficult, considering we’re living in an era of supposed instant information. I’m sure we’ve been spoiled by sure hits all the time in other aspects of information hunting, so when we encounter disarray in data-dishing for a very public event, such as an election, the shortcomings may seem more glaring than they really are.

Take the riding of Vaughan as an example. We told you, pretty much as it happened, that Mario Ferri, running for the Liberal party, would be challenging Conservative incumbent Julian Fantino. But that was a week ago. In an election cycle that will last scarcely a month and with the rapid-fire action characteristic of Vaughan political races, that feels like a lifetime. So it does come as a surprise to see the Elections Canada website still listing Fantino as the only registered candidate in Vaughan.

There is no controversy there; Ferri has been registered. Elections Canada simply hasn’t updated the site. In fact, a final list of candidates won’t be posted until Wednesday, April 13.

Now, if my eyes don’t deceive me, a third player has appeared on the scene in Vaughan: Green Party signs promoting candidate Norbert Koehl began popping up on Maple street corners on Sunday. However, no supporting evidence could be found on the Internet; to the contrary, the party’s website lists Claudia Rodriguez-Larrain as the candidate in Vaughan, and Koehl in Thornhill — both realities of previous elections, not this one. And an email attempt at making contact with the party (Gmail…ugh!) also failed to yield results.

Is it possible that the Internet is simply not ready to take over as the primary platform for communicating major events? Eek! Or is this relative chaos more to do with the usual suspects not being able to get themselves ready for prime time? While I would wish to make the case that content providers sometimes need reminding there is an audience ready, waiting and expectant, I am sobered by the tepid response I’ve seen to online polls, both here and on other local sites.

Ready or not, the Internet is going to be the primary platform for election coverage in Vaughan Today — here and on the main site. This abrupt election call has been a rude imposition on our magazine’s publishing schedule, so we consider ourselves sort of ’Net-rescued: a website, a blog and a flock of Twitter birds will see us through.

We are ready. Were we not is when you would have noticed. And that is why more than our curiosity has been piqued when we find the organizers and some of the players in this national drama a little out of step. 

Dan Hoddinott

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