So what’s the world coming to, you ask, when an accused pedophile got 130 people in Fort Whyte to sign his papers so he could be a candidate in the Sept. 4 provincial byelection.
Elections Manitoba said there was nothing under the act to prevent Darrell Ackman — a.k.a. MrJetzTV — or anyone else facing criminal charges for running for provincial office.
As we are a society that cherishes the legal principle that people are presumed innocent unless proven guilty, we don’t think the laws should be changed.
MrJetzTV — charged this summer for allegedly recruiting girls under the age of 18 to appear in porn videos — has every right to run for office under the current laws.
But we certainly do question the motives and cognitive abilities of the 130 folks who signed his nomination papers.
As noted in the Winnipeg Free Press, Ackman managed this bit of political paperwork even though he is on bail after being charged this summer with living off the avails of prostitution, sexual assault, sexual interference, possessing child pornography, making, printing or publishing child pornography and invitation to sexual touching.
The Tuxedo resident became an official candidate on Sunday after Elections Manitoba vetted the signatures to make sure everything was in order.
“There is nothing saying I’m convicted,” Ackman, 43, told the Free Press Monday.
Elections Manitoba spokeswoman Alison Mitchell said the act only prohibits potential candidates from running if they’re incarcerated or have been convicted under the Elections Act within five years before election day.
While many would say that having an accused pedophile on an election ballot makes a mockery of the election system, we here at the Sun always try to find a ray of light in all those dark clouds.
First off, voter turnout at byelections at any level of government are notoriously low.
And even though this byelection is to fill the seat vacated by former Opposition leader Hugh McFadyen — and features new Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister — we bet most folks wouldn’t have a clue there was an election campaign underway and wouldn’t have Sept. 4 marked on their calendars.
So the media attention this turn of events has afforded the byelection will surely only help to make more folks aware of the chance to vote if they live in that affluent section of southwest Winnipeg.
People in Brandon will recall how interest in the 2006 municipal election spiked after national news magazine Macleans ran a story about how three of our six mayoral hopefuls were fighting criminal charges.
Two of the candidates not involved with the law at the time said they worried “that Brandon’s reputation may be blackened by its wild politics.”
We’re not too sure what, if any, damage was caused to the city’s reputation then. And we have no idea what, if anything, will happen to Manitoba’s reputation by having an accused pedophile on a byelection ballot.
But unless MrJetzTV pleads guilty or is convicted before Sept. 4, then we will fight for his right to be presumed innocent and be on the ballot.
And if he can be on the ballot, then he should also be able to campaign on a level playing field with the other candidates Pallister; Bob Axworthy (Liberal); Brandy Schmidt (NDP); and Donnie Benham (Green).
Ackman’s bail condictions place restrictions on his ability to campaign — he can’t go door-knocking as he can’t be near anyone under the age of 18 and he has a 6 p.m to 6 a.m. curfew.
But we’re sure there could be ways for Manitoba Justice and Elections Manitoba to satisfy bail conditions, while also honouring Ackman’s democratic rights and freedoms.
Such as having a chaperone accompany him.
Again, we’re not defending an accused child molester here, just trying to protect both the right for anyone to be presumed innocent and also the right for all candidates on a ballot to have a fair shot at getting their message out.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 22, 2012