The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prevalebit. g THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1881. To-Morrow’s Contest.
Ere another impression of The Guardian meets the eyes of its Wakanui readers, they will have exercised the privilege of recording their votes for the one candidate out of the three on the ballot-paper, whom they think will best represent their interests in the counsels of the country for the ensuing three years. The franchise now is of such a liberal nature that almost every male adult of the country has a voice as to the manner in which the affairs of the country shall be conducted. This being so, we hope the electors of Wakanui will attach due importance to the duty imposed upon them to-morrow, and that they will weigh carefully the merits and demerits of the various candidates, now seeking their confidence. Of the three gentlemen bet iveen whom the electors have to decide, one has avowed himself as generally satisfied with the Ministry now in power, and willing to give them a fair support. Another candidate, while admitting that in the last Parliament it would have been difficult to find a more able and trustworthy set of men—has generally condemned the Ministry as having no policy, and severely criticised most of the actions, both of legislation and administration. The third candidate, has boldly come forward as the most virulent opponent of His Excellency’s responsible advisers, denouncing them as mere tools of the squatters and land monopolists. Those being the views, briefly stated, of the various candidates with regard to the present Ministry, it behoves the electors, in seeking for the best man to represent them, to consider for a moment what they owe to those gentlemen whp at present hold the reins of power irt New Zealand. First, then, we would remind them that it is this muchabused Ministry to whom many of them owe the privilege of being able to record their votes as free men tomorrow. But for the truly Liberal measures of electoral reform introduced and carried through both Houses of the Legislature by the Hon. John Hall and his colleagues, the “ virgin constituency ” of Wakanui would be at present unthought of, and numbers of its'inhabitants would have no more voice in the management of the Slate’s affairs than the “ dumb driven cattle ” quietly browsing on the plains, oblivious of the struggle which is so soon to take place. Another matter well worthy the consideration of the electors in this connection is the fact of Ashburton having returned, without opposition, Mr E. G. Wright, a gentleman giving the Ministry a fair support. If Wakanui returns a man prepared to “ run-a-muck ” at every act of the present Government — or of any other, for the matter of that, unless that Government contains his own name, such is his almost boundless ambition—that constituency and Ashburton will be really disfranchised by the representative of each electorate walking into opposite lobbies on the ringing of the division bell. To come to the qualifications of the candidates as local men —The first name on the ballot paper to meet the eye of the voter will be that of Mr Joseph Ivess, a gentleman who can hardly be said to have a very heavy stake in the electorate which his ego_
tism leads him to suppose he is a “ fit and proper person ” to represent, and, if it suited him, he would no doubt pack up his carpet bag and smile an adieu, as he has done before, and try fresh fields. Mr Purnell is a gentleman of whose abilities we, in common'with most who know him, entertain a high opinion ; but, while not being of such migratory habits as the ’person whose claims we have just noticed, he cannot be said to possess any great stake in Wakanui, more than in any ether electorate in the colony. The third candidate, Mr Wason, is a gentleman farming about Tood acres of land in the ‘ distinct, ana as such stands preeminently above his rivals as a local man. The welfare of the district is his welfare, and the interest of the farming class his interest. He has been accused by a vivacious opponent of being a “ land monopolistbut the Governor of the Bank of England might with as much reason be termed a miser, simply because he is the director of great wealth, which he speedily turns over, and in so doing benefits all classes of the community. Such a man as Mr Wason, if times get bad, must stay and bear the pinch with the rest of the people. He cannot simply “get up and get,” and leave others to bear the burden. This being the case—which we think the most enthusiastic partizan cannot deny—we are sure the majority of the electors of the district will have little hesitation in placing their interests in his hands, being fully confident that the fact of those interests being identical with his own is a guarantee that his voice will be heard in protest against any legislation which is likely to act prejudicially to to the agricultural portion of the electors. Briefly summarising them, the claims and qualifications of the three candidates are—Two are opponents of the present Ministry ; one is their supporter. Two of the candidates have little or no stake in the electorate ; the interest of the-, other is almost inseparably - bound up in it. Trusting that every one qualified, who possibly can do so, will go to the poll, we leave the matter in the hands of the electors, and we feel sure that the good sense of the majority will prevent them being led astray by any mere blatan ■ demagogue who would make theit votes a: stalking-horse to gratify his over - weaning vanity, while knowing little of —and caring less for — their interests. We are confident that the farming portion at any rate of the electorate, after carefully weighing the merits of the three candidates, will obliterate all names from the voting paper but that of John Cathcart Wason,
whom we hope to see returned as the farmers’ representative for Wakanui.
Ashburton Bridge. Our attention has been called to an omission in our report of the County Council meeting yesterday. A week or two back the Guardian, in describing how a woman had been nearly rushed by cattle in crossing the bridge, suggested that the rail in front of the escape-ways should be replaced, as those places of. refuge were at present of little use, being as open as the bridge itself. This question came up at the County Council meeting yesterday, when it was resolved that the should write to Government ajsking that the escape-ways might bo protected in the manner above indicated , without delay. The item was inadvertently omitted from yesterday’s report, and, strange to say, it was omitted from all the reports.