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Editorial: Voters have a right to know

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Our story “Three Nunatsiavut candidates facing criminal charges”, published on-line, drew a flurry of comments on social media, from some of the candidates mentioned and members of the public.

The original story did contain one error, referencing an earlier version of the Criminal Code in relation to one of the charges. We corrected the on-line version and the correct version is on today’s front page.

The criticism levelled against us, however, had more to do with our decision to run the story in the first place.

On that point, our defense is simple.

People have a right to know who they are voting for.

In the case of the criminal charges that are before the courts, that information is public information.

There was nothing in the Labradorian story that is not public information. All of it is available at the courts to any citizen. All they have to do is request it and pay a small fee of 0.25 per page. They can also view the names, charges and dates online for free.

These three people are innocent unless proven otherwise.

One of the cases comes to court in April; the other two won’t come to court until September.

Meanwhile, the Nunatsiavut election will be held in May.

Under Nunatsiavut election laws a person “who has been convicted of an indictable offence and whose sentence was completed less than five years prior to nomination day, or has been convicted of a summary offence and whose sentence is not yet completed, cannot run in the election.”

While each of the three candidates have a right to run in this election, the outcome of the court process could have ramifications for the Nunatsiavut government and its citizens.

A guilty verdict would force resignation and trigger a by-election.

Through social media chatter, and direct calls to the editor, there has been a lot of discussion around the circumstances that led to the charges.

However, the fact is the final decision on who is guilty or innocent rests with the court.

We print facts, not hearsay.

When the cases are heard in court we will be there to report the judge’s final decision.

Anyone seeking election to public office — whether it be a school board, municipal council or higher levels of government —ought to realize that if they have been charged with criminal offenses and are facing the court system, that information will be made public.

Full and complete disclosure is of utmost importance in the democratic process.

Our story told voters what they have a right to know.

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