This morning I tuned into an exchange with Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, and political commentator Bill Tielman, on CBC radio in Victoria. The conversation revolved around Bill 20, which will allow any political party, or independent candidate, to receive information on who has or hasn't voted in an election.
Under existing ways of doing things, political parties identify their voters and remind them on voting day to get out and vote. Political parties may also have scrutineers at every poll to note those they have identified as their supporters when they vote, which also allows them to also know those who have not yet voted.
It has always been the responsibility of political parties to have people in place to be scrutineers. So here's the REAL reason for political parties to very quietly arrange to have Elections BC now hand over info on all who voted (and thereby those as well who didn't). They no longer have the volunteers stepping up to be involved in THEIR campaigns.
If BC's political parties don't have individuals willing to support them, by volunteering, then too bad for them. THEIR lack of volunteers is NOT our problem.
And you can bet it WILL increase the number of people being called by political parties to recheck their own info on who may or may not support them. You can count on getting even more calls during election campaigns.
More so than just the above, this provision to freely hand over information on who has, or hasn't voted, is fundamentally wrong.
Why do I say this? Because BC's political parties quietly asked for this to be done. Our democratic voting system is based on openness and honesty.
Does secretly having this amendment, snuck into the election act, sound open and honest to you? It doesn't to me.
Better yet, where has the conversation from political parties on why we should support and vote for them gone to. No instead we have ongoing bashing by parties on why the other is the worst possible option we could choose!
|Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver|
Which now leads me to the topic of political reform.
In 1994 the NDPs Mike Farnworth stated: “Reform does not need to wait until the next parliament; reform is an ongoing process, in the same way that our democracy and this parliamentary institution -- which we hold dear -- evolves.”
BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid: “This caucus, the official opposition in the province of British Columbia will stand behind reform. This caucus will not stand behind activities that are mean-spirited or deceitful or not the genuine article; this is not the genuine article. The independence of the Speaker is the issue for this parliament; it must be the issue for every single parliament in Canada and every single parliament in the Commonwealth.”
Twenty years later independent MLA’s Vicki Huntington, John van Dongen, and Bob Simpson presented a paper entitled the Democratic Reform Agenda.
WHY? Because nothing had yet to be done. Just a few of the suggestions they called for, included the following:
1) Moving the fixed election date to the first Tuesday of October so that it did not fall during budget time.
2) Banning corporate and union donations and allow only BC residents to donate to political parties and candidates.
3) Party leadership contests should be run by Elections BC. Their rationale was that we should have assurances that the leadership process within political parties is conducted in a transparent and democratic manner.
4) The relaxing of party discipline so that MLAs can cast free votes in the Legislature on non-confidence matters, without fear of repercussions.
It’s been another two years since the suggestions in the Democratic Reform Agenda were put forward and yes … still nothing is any different than before.
Huntington, Dongen, and Simpson noted the words of BC Reform MLA Jack Weisgerber from 1995, who stated: “[M]ost of the parliamentary reforms that are talked about in this House are talked about by members in opposition…because the situation that needs reforming is the tremendous advantage that the government has under our parliamentary system. As we change sides in this House…the new party in government suddenly recognizes the benefits of the current system and is loath to bring in changes.”
It does honestly seem like no matter who the government in power is, we are NOT going to see any real democratic changes … that's because they go against the very principle of party leadership and control.
Are you satisfied with that ... is that the best we can and should expect?
If your answer is yes, then our democratic process will continue to fall apart, and people taking part in the democratic process, by voting, will continue to erode.
I'm Alan Forseth in Kamloops, and I'm curious what you think.