A Presentation to Understanding the Referendum on Electoral Reform

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referendumBritish Columbians will be voting this fall, from Oct. 22 through to Nov. 30 on whether to adopt an electoral system based on proportional representation (PR) for our provincial elections. The voting package from Elections BC will arrive in the mailboxes of all registered voters between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2, 2018.

In view of the referendum being held on what voting system we should use the CV Council of Canadians is pleased to be hosting an information open house with Barb Berger, Chair of Fair Vote Comox Valley on Sat., Oct. 27 from 1:30-3:30 pm in the Rotary Hall at the Filberg Centre, Courtenay.

Our electoral system in BC is old. Like the rest of Canada, we inherited our first-past-the-post (FPTP) system from the United Kingdom. We didn’t choose it. It was chosen for us when BC joined Confederation in 1871.

With every FPTP election there is increased frustration from people knowing that their votes will not count and nor will their concerns be represented in the legislature. The push back from the public to be heard on issues that affect their lives and their communities continues to grow.

How can Proportional Representation help? What is this referendum all about? Berger will address these questions and discuss the three PR choices on the ballot.

Also, Jamie Deith a systems designer, extremely knowledge on electoral systems will lead us through an enlightening questionnaire he’s designed to help determine what we value in a voting system and if we lean toward FPPT or PR.

Fair Vote Comox Valley and the CV Council of Canadians recognizes the historic opportunity to adopt a system that works for all of us – one that is fair, inclusive and engages all voters.

This fall, with our mail-in ballot, British Columbians can decide to strengthen democracy by choosing an electoral system that allows us all to be heard no matter where we are on the political spectrum.

Saturday, Oct. 27 from 1:30-3:30 pm.– doors open 1:00 pm. Rotary Room, Florence Filberg Centre, 411 Anderton Rd, Courtenay. Donations at the door.

Our Water Future: Local Water Governance in the Comox Valley

Amazing recreation, the great outdoors and locally grown food are just a few of the reasons why the Comox Valley is an awesome place to live and play.

Water is an essential component to all these things. Rivers and streams give life to the place we call home. Groundwater fuels our farm and food economy. The mighty Comox Lake and the surrounding watershed sustain the growing communities across the Valley. People here understand how water connects to all aspects of the lifestyle we value and enjoy.

The Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, October 10, 7-9 pm at the Florence Filberg Centre, Courtenay, could be the start of a conversation about watersheds and what citizens can do to help establish a model of community governance for our water. If the people who reside in a watershed are more involved in the decision making, we might enjoy better outcomes.

There are many reasons as to why the Comox Valley would be the logical and ideal place to establish such a community governance model. A multi-million dollar water treatment plant is being developed. Summer drought conditions and boil water advisories have become “the new normal”. The licensing by the province to withdraw, bottle and sell water from a local aquifer that supports families, farms and wildlife, despite opposition from the K’omoks First Nation, the CV Regional District and members of the community, indicates a clear disconnect between the province and communities.

Rosie Simms, a Water Law and Policy Research Coordinator with the Polis Project  will discuss how the 2016 Water Sustainability Act (WSA) grants local governments the authority to create Watershed Sustainability Plans, and provides opportunities to implement sustainable governance that would ideally encompass the entire Regional District.

Bruce Gibbons, founder of the Merville Water Guardians, will discuss his ongoing communications with provincial representatives about strengthening the WSA.

A member from the Cowichan Water Board will speak to how their board functions in an advisory capacity to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The event is being sponsored by Comox Valley Water Watch, Our Water BC, Watershed Sentinel, Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, Merville Water Guardians and the Comox Valley Council of Canadians.

We hope to hear your voice at this community water forum, October 10th, 7 pm, upstairs at Florence Filberg Centre – 411 Anderton Ave., Courtenay.

Referendum on Electoral Reform

Election after election, a minority of BC voters decides our government and then that government gets a four-year dictatorship. It’s minority rule, plain and simple. And it’s unfair and undemocratic.

The referendum on electoral reform is an extremely rare opportunity to advance our democracy by making it fairer, less prone to special interests and more representative of all British Columbians.

A steady stream of letters to the editor in support of proportional representation (PR) in our local newspapers will help encourage dialogue and raise awareness on the importance of voting in the upcoming referendum.

PR is simply fair
• With PR – a party that gets 40 percent of the vote gets 40 percent of the seats in the Legislature. Power is proportional to voter support and resembles what we voted for.

• With PR – a majority government in BC with a minority of the votes would be a thing of the past – no more 100 percent of the power with 39 percent of the vote, as is the case with the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system!

• With PR – your vote will count, your vote will make a difference and your vote will give you a voice in the legislature.

• With PR – no more holding your nose to vote ‘strategically’ for a candidate and party you don’t believe in just because they have the best chance of defeating a party you dislike even more.

• With PR – you can choose the parties or candidates that best reflect your values, issue preferences, or belief in their ability to be a good representative. You will be able to vote your true intentions knowing that your vote will not be ‘wasted’. Any system, such as FPTP that discourages people from voting with their true intentions is not democratic or fair.

• With PR – no matter where you live, rural or urban, your area will be represented. Gone are the days, for example, when Vancouver Island or rural BC are shut out of government decision-making because the winning party does not represent them.

• PR – systems address some of the challenges that result from citizens feeling left out of their democracy. It opens the door for those traditionally excluded.

• PR – limits the influence of powerful lobbyists and interest groups of big corporations. It’s not as easy to influence smaller parties and coalition governments. This helps temper big corporate money that has traditionally influenced our major parties. Perhaps why big corporations do not generally favour the change to a PR electoral system.

• PR – encourages more collaboration, less confrontation. Coalition and minority governments are among the most effective governments under which Canada has benefited. Pension plans and our universal health care system were the result of federal Liberal-NDP coalition governments.

• PR – is far more likely to produce a legislature in which no single party governs like a bully with an absolute majority. When parties need each other to pass legislation respectful debate is more likely to happen, changing the atmosphere of winner-take-all, which has turned our politics toxic.

• PR – in more than 90 countries around the world PR has led to more satisfaction with democratic institutions, more diverse involvement in elected politics, elected more women and minorities, increased voter turnout and youth engagement – PR gives everyone a voice.

• PR – is the most common democratic system in the world. If citizens of other democracies can figure it out, so can British Columbians.

Presentations from the 2nd Sustainability Forum

The 2nd Sustainability Forum on Sept 19 continued the conversation about how we might find solutions to some of the inter-related problems we face as a society – and how we might create a more sustainable Comox Valley.

All issues covered in the Forum fall within the mandate of our local municipal councils – be it the Village of Cumberland, the Town of Comox, the City of Courtenay or the three electoral areas.

Click on the links below to access the presentations that were given at this Sustainability Forum. As a voter, you can use this information to ask pointed questions of local municipal candidates running for office this October. You can also check out the questions that have been submitted by presenters at the two forums that can be asked of candidates for local office.

If you’re a candidate, consider the thoughtful solutions that have been presented…and get in touch with the organizations/individuals for further details.

Dr Charmaine Enns has been the Comox Valley’s public health doctor for the past 15 years. She is passionate about improving the health of populations and communities. Check out her powerpoint Health Impact on the role of local governments in advancing population health.

Mary Beil is a Councillor with the City of Parksville with an interest in sustainability issues. She successfully brought forth the motion to take steps to implement a ban on single-use plastic bags at point of sale. Watch her powerpoint presentation on the plastic bag ban process .

Amber Zirnhelt is the City of Campbell River’s Long Range Planning and Sustainability Manager and helped to guide that city through the year-long process to develop a Sustainable Official Community Plan. Her overview of Campbell River’s sustainability plans and initiatives highlights climate action and adaptation initiatives, green buildings and building energy efficiency, waste reduction and urban agriculture.