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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

It will strengthen democracy in our province, and ensure that referendum results reflect the true views of our citizens

BC Conservatives took steps at their recent Annual General Meeting towards showing British Columbians they are serious about democratic reform and accountable government. 

Step number one (the most important at least in my opinion) was to declare that:
no political party, candidate, or third-party advertiser shall receive funding, or other types of financial or material support, for their election campaign from a foreign entity

The second was, in my opinion, somewhat ambiguous, however it does take steps towards what is needed:
the BC Conservative Party supports reforming the Recall and Initiative Act to lower the threshold for British Columbians to propose legislative changes

Real reform of the BC Legislature has been a topic for several decades now, and always it seems, just baby steps are taken.

Meantime three provinces over, Manitoba’s government of Brian Pallister introduced new legislation that would establish rules for conducting referendums on matters of public importance.

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced on Thursday (December 6th) that:
This bill will meet a key government priority and respond to a request from the chief electoral officer for clear rules to govern referendumsIt will fulfill our government’s commitment to set out a framework for calling and conducting a referendum in Manitoba.”

Under the proposed legislation, the Manitoba cabinet could bring a referendum question to the legislative assembly for approval.  Public committee hearings would the take place allowing their residents to have a say in the wording of the referendum question.

In a move providing true democratic reform, it would also require that a referendum be held before implementing a significant change to the provincial voting scheme … and before the Manitoba legislative assembly would be able to vote on authorizing an amendment to the Canadian Constitution

Those would be in addition to requirements already in place to hold a referendum on major tax increases … the privatization of public utilities, including Manitoba Hydro … and the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation.

Like the BC Conservative policy motion, Manitoba’s legislation will also call for rules on how a referendum is called, conducted and financed.  Of equal importance, it will also place spending limits on campaigning for referendums for both individuals and political parties (as we have seen here in BC on the referendum of how we will vote in the next provincial election) … as well as place restrictions on government advertising.

These changes will guarantee that any referendums conducted in Manitoba are fair, accountable and transparent”, said Cullen before continuing:

It will strengthen democracy in our province and ensure that referendum results reflect the true views of our citizens”.

Why is democratic reform important to good government, and why should our legislators would always be open to considering new ways of accountability to us?  Perhaps the following quotes capture it best:

"There's always something in the game you wish you would have done different. That's why players improve, because they learn from what they did before. They might have been guessing before, but now they know” ~~ Gordie Howe

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.  The fears are paper tigers.  You can do anything you decide to do.  You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process, is its own reward"  ~~ Amelia Earhart

Manitoba’s elected officials have taken steps towards more accountability to their constituents – our MLA’s in Victoria should do likewise.

In Kamloops, I'm Alan Forseth.  If you have any thoughts on this, I hope you will share them directly below in the Comments Section.


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