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.

Site C Decision

Many British Columbians are deeply disappointed with the government’s controversial decision to proceed with the Site C dam. We can not remain silent! It is imperative our voices are heard and that we continue to let Premier Horgan, members of the cabinet and our MLA know how we feel about their resolve to continue with this mega project.

What can you do?

1.Choose one or more of the points about the Site C decision to write a letter – handwritten, snail-mail letters are most effective. Your letter doesn’t need to be long – Andrew Nikiforuk suggests writing one a week.

2.Friday, March 23 – Mark this date on your calendar and come to the townhall and fundraising event to learn more Site C: Is It a Done Deal? 7 pm, K’omoks Band Hall

 

MSP Fee Replacement Solutions

This month, the NDP Government fulfilled one of its pre-election promises by cutting MSP fees by 50%, with a promise of eliminating them completely within four years.

Currently, the MSP fee is a “flat” fee (ie same rate paid by everyone) and disproportionately affects working class British Columbians. B.C. is the only province in the country that relies on a flat fee to raise revenue for health care.

While cutting MSP fees is a great step, revenue is necessary to pay for essential health care services and other programs–and ideally that would be raised through the tax system.

It is imperative that the government receives significant support for the idea of replacing revenues through the tax system. Big business and anti-tax advocates will be sure to lobby the government for not replacing revenues through progressive means.

Please send a submission to the MSP Task Force by January 31, 2018 at 4 pm. You can modify or use this MSP Word Activist letter. Further information is available in the BC Health Coalition’s submission to the Task Force.

The Task Force’s final report to government is due by March 31, 2018.

Please also use the email tool on the BC Health Coalition website and share it with your friends.

Renewal of Fish-farm Tenures

The Musgamagw Dzawda’enuxw, Namgis and Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwamis First Nations, in opposition to the possible renewal of fish farm tenure licences in their traditional territory, are currently observing two foreign-owned salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago.

You can help by writing letters urging the federal government to revoke the company’s in-ocean fish farm licences, and the provincial government not to renew their sea floor tenure licences.

Letters to the editor of the Record, the Times Colonist and the Vancouver Sun would help increase public awareness of this situation. Continue reading