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.

For More Information

Links from Sept 19 Sustainability Forum

Powerpoint presentations from the first Sustainability Forum

Sandra Hamilton and social procurement
Are We Buying the Future We Want?
Island and Sunshine Coast Communities Creating Community Benefit Hub
Aligning Public Procurement in Canada with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

City of Campbell River’s Sustainable Official Community Plan

Climate Change

Towards a More Sustainable Comox Valley

Questions for Candidates in the 2018 Municipal Election

In May and in September, Comox Valley Council of Canadians, Comox Valley Global Awareness Network and Imagine Comox Valley hosted two Sustainability Forums; forums whose goal it was to bring attention to key issues relevant in the upcoming election.

Click candidate questions to find questions provided by speakers from both Forums which you might ask candidates running for election in your municipality. For a detailed outline of  issues from the first Forum, please review the powerpoints here.