I first met Terry in 2000 as a candidate of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, representing its work for democratic renewal of Canada. Terry Tingley was then Returning Officer (RO) for Elections Canada for the federal constituency of Halifax, where he served several terms. I had had experience with different officials in previous elections, but meeting Terry was like a breath of fresh air. Virtually for the first time there were no complications or “misunderstandings.” This is one of the significant aspects of the life and outlook of Terry Tingley, that we may not know of but will appreciate, as Terry discharged his responsibilities anonymously. He understood that the rights of the people could only be served through a fair and democratic electoral process, and conducted himself according to this principle. He genuinely cared for the people of Canada to be involved in political life and in particular the election.
If I may elaborate further from a personal example, which I shall never forget:
In an ensuing election (2004), my nomination as MLPC candidate in Halifax West was arbitrarily ruled ineligible and in a manner that was suspect; the RO cited the “fact” that the signatures of 6 electors had not been initialized by the candidate’s official witness, although the witness had signed the entire page of nominees on the bottom of the page as required, and we had more than the minimum 100 signatures of electors required. The ruling was not made when our nomination papers were submitted and initially reviewed by the RO, but after the nominations had officially closed, that is, giving no time to rectify the “error.”
When Terry heard about this, although he was Returning Officer in Halifax, a different electoral riding, he immediately intervened with a singular integrity. He argued with the Halifax West RO that this discriminatory ruling was contrary to both the law and the spirit of Elections Canada to facilitate participation in the electoral process; that it was in their power to have the witness simply initialize the signatures, as they had clearly been witnessed; that all other stipulations had been fulfilled by the candidate and his team; and this is what he would have done in his Returning Office! It is this democratic spirit of the people of our country personified by Terry Tingley in action that the Harperites are running roughshod over with their attacks on Elections Canada and democratic norms, their dictatorial restrictions on the parliamentary electoral process and the rights of small parties, and their ceaseless attempts to exclude the polity from exercising their franchise and having its say. From this perspective, I pay tribute to Terry Tingley.
More, Terry also subsequently became a friend, though I have not seen him in many years due to my responsibilities in another region. He used to drop into the North Street offices of Shunpiking Magazine in Halifax, at first to kindly deliver this or that election form, then later on a social basis if he happened to be driving by. We had different interesting and long chats. A lifelong educator, he shared his concerns about the problems in the educational system and those the youth face. He had a keen interest in Kevin and his young family, and an abiding respect for the stands of his brother Darrell and his partner Susan and the struggle of the Canadian postal workers for their rights. He was such a sociable, self-effacing and down-to-earth man with a great sense of humour and a great and ready smile. And with the fisherman’s love of the natural world and the eternal challenge of landing the next big one! He once invited me for a weekend to the family cabin on the Margaree; unfortunately I had some other commitment. In such an environment, I am sure I would have seen a dimension of his character and life hitherto unknown to me.
I join with all those who are celebrating the life and example of Terry Tingley, educator, democrat and friend.
July 3, 2015
A funeral service will be held at the Atlantic Funeral Home, 125 Sackville Drive, Lower Sackville, Saturday, July 4, 2015 at 2 p.m. Reverend Bob Jones officiating. Terry would welcome wild or garden flowers for his funeral service. A reception will follow the service in the Atlantic Lounge. Donations may be made to Bayside Baptist Church 9 Youth Camp Rd. Bayside. B3Z 1L8. Online condolences may be sent to http://www.atlanticfuneralhomes.com Sackville Chapel.