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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

(Political) reform does not need to wait until the next parliament; reform is an ongoing process

Today I am reminded of the old saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."  Never was that more true than when it comes to politics.

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. 

Should this become a problem for the people of BC? 

NO! 

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
A Twitter conversation I had with Andrew Weaver, following this mornings discussion with Bill Tielman on CBC Radio, was rather interesting given what I have just noted: 



@AJWVictoriaBC You are bang on. It is not up to #ElectionsBC 2allow for #bcpoli parties 2 have info -- parties MUST give us a reason to vote 4them

@AlanForseth Thanks Alan. Seems to be lost in the whole discussion. Low voter turnout precisely because of political antics

@AJWVictoriaBC Sadly it will simply continu 2get worse. 2often egative campaigns = negative voting = poor cand8s elected. Sad & disapointing

.@AlanForseth That is the essence of the vote split argument: Vote against something instead of for something. People are fed up with that


@AJWVictoriaBC Ive always firmly believed as individuals we shud vote what best matches R belief /ideals no matter if candid8 can win or not

@AJWVictoriaBC (2of2). If people did they just might B pleasantly surprised 2C thr candid8 might actually win. Scare tactics 2stop this tho

@AlanForseth As have I. Since I started voting I have always voted for the person who I think will best represent me.


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.” 

BC Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell: Said reform was essential, but that it should start with free votes, opening up PAC, and fixed parliamentary calendars.

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.

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