Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« Frank Klees versus Randy Hillier on abortion | Main | Seems Like Yesterday »

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BC Election and Referendum: How are you voting?

Today is the day.  We're voting on a new government and possibly a new electoral system.

Our choices on the first ticket are the BC Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens. 

The BC Liberals are the closest thing British Columbia has to a mainstream, right-wing party. [Their platform can be found here]. They're selling themselves as the party of stability. Maybe it will work better for them than it did for the federal Conservatives in the last election--but as Terry O'Neil wrote on the Standard the other day, the Liberals have effectively alienated much of their base - so you do have to wonder who's still around to think that Liberal 'stability' is a good thing.

The NDP are the Liberals' only real threat, they're running on raising the minimum wage and repealing the BC Liberal's carbon tax among many many other things. [Their platform can be found here] David Suzuki has condemned them, which is endorsement enough for a lot of the BC right. But get past that one issue, and you see the same old NDP.

Besides the mainstream parties we have three smaller alternatives:

The BC Conservatives: like the BC Liberals, they are completely separate from their federal equivalents.  There's talk that the BC Conservatives could be a spoiler for the BC Liberals in some ridings in the interior. That could be a good thing. 

I interviewed their leader a few weeks back--he made all the right noises about free speech. If you're a one-issue voter, there's your party. But if you are leaning that way, try and spare a minute to dig through the platform on their poorly plagiarized site. It's underwhelming.

Next up are the Libertarians, they're the first choice for a lot of us--but with only 6 candidates (out of a potential 85), most of us don't have the option of voting for them. If you are in one of the few ridings they're running in, please take a look at this interview we posted with their President, Paul Geddes, before you vote. 

Finally we have the BC Refed Party. Kind of like Quebec's ADQ--they're calling for a new federal arrangement between BC and Canada. On that they have my total support. But then you look at how they go about trying to recruit new candidates and you can see that none of them are worth a damn.

That's it for the main parties. But besides the main vote, there's the referendum.  We will be voting on the Single Transferable Vote. I've posted interviews from the leaders of the 'Yes' side, the 'No' side, and from a foreign academic on STV. I wish I could have posted more, but I couldn't find enough balance. 

BC-STV was proposed to give some form of representation for the 50% or 60% of voters who find themselves on the losing side in our existing first-past-the-post system. 

Under STV, your riding will be sending up to 7 people to parliament. Instead of an 'X' you number the candidates on your ballot in order of preference. Once a candidate has enough votes to get elected, their remaining votes are distributed to the other candidates.

It may sound simple, but the most frequent criticism you hear of STV is that it's confusing. And honestly, they're right - It is. Try it and you'll see what I mean. 

So two ballots, one of which could change everything about our politics--if you're in BC, how will you be voting, and why?  And any predictions?

For me, I'll be refusing a ballot for the main vote. If there isn't someone I like, I don't vote. But when it comes to the referendum, I'll be voting 'yes'. It's not close to being a perfect system, but I think on the whole, it's more democratic and more respectful of the rights of ideological minorities than the existing system. My hope is that STV will help make our party system more divided and polarized and get us away from this mediocrity that's overwhelming our country.

As for predictions, I expect the government to win and STV to lose.

Two other Shotgun contributers have sounded off on the vote already--Terry O'Neil posted on here the other day, saying that he would be voting Libertarian. He didn't mention STV, but Rick Hiebert did--I gather he'll be voting 'No' on that.

Posted by Robert Jago on May 12, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink


Does Wilf Hanni honestly think that people will donate money to his campaign in order to wear horrid t-shirts with his picture on it?

Posted by: Kelsey | 2009-05-12 6:08:04 AM

"That's it for the main parties."

You write up the BC Conservatives but not the Greens?

If I were back home in Vancouver and the STV issue managed to get me to the polls, I'd be voting for BC Libertarian Tunya Audain, who I first met a year ago in Calgary making an impassioned speech on the topic of home schooling and the demonopolization of education provision--but I think the BC Greens deserves a second look from libertarians. I know that they are largely a party of the social-justice mommy-government left, but let me try to accentuate some of the positive:

Their policies on crime (a major issue in urban Vancouver) reflect a common sense decentralist and civil libertarian bent.

They want to establish a provincial police force and, as has been documented on this blog, the Greens' crime platform includes the legalization of victimless 'crimes' like production and distribution of marijuana and some other currently illegal drugs as well as prostitution (although they have an odd anti-gambling orientation). Nor are these marginal issues for them: when asked about crime or gangs, party leader Jane Sterk always talks first about the importance on ending the counterproductive policy of drug prohibition.

Their critic for crime during the election campaign was Jodie Emery, a self-described libertarian, who memorably told a public sector union member calling a radio station and asking about his union's ongoing strike and wage negotiations that "there's not an unlimited government bucket of money."

That the party promises to allow free votes in the legislature and has prominent (if not necessarily doctrinaire) libertarians like Emery in positions of importance indicates an openness to new ideas and suggests the possibility of a decentralist libertarian wing to the growing party.

Like other Green Parties the world over, The BC Greens have 10 planks (I know how ominous that sounds). Here's how the BC Green website characterizes plank 8:


The people most affected by a problem must have the authority to solve it. Distant administrations cannot be responsive. Power must be returned to local communities.

The nice thing is that the BC Greens seem to derive a good amount of their policies from these and other healthy instincts, like a desire to minimize waste and secrecy in government. For example, these are some of their best promises from their platform, the 'Green Book':

BC Greens Will:

Return to balanced budgets as soon as possible

End subsidies to sunset industries that are inefficient and wasteful.

Require VANOC to create a central budgetary reporting authority that is accountable to the public

Ensure Olympic security measures do not violate British Columbians’ civil liberties

Shift taxes away from jobs and onto waste

Institute a system of free votes in the Legislature for all matters, including the budget, except explicit votes of confidence in the government

Strengthen and support the Freedom of Information Act to make information accessible in a timely manner

Introduce effective “ whistle-blower” legislation

Remove electric stun devices from all law enforcement agencies within BC

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-05-12 8:13:32 AM

Return to balanced budgets as soon as possible..

As soon as possible or as soon as practical?

End subsidies to sunset industries that are inefficient and wasteful.

Is it cheaper to pay tens of thousands of welfare cheques for years on end? If so, fine. But have you even checked?

Require VANOC to create a central budgetary reporting authority that is accountable to the public.

Accountable how?

Ensure Olympic security measures do not violate British Columbians’ civil liberties.

Breaking the law is not a civil liberty. Blocking traffic, harassing strangers, creating a disturbance, disorderly conduct, and trespassing are all crimes. Having a cause does not change this.

Shift taxes away from jobs and onto waste.

You mean onto consumption. You can eliminate waste, but not consumption. And if you succeed in eliminating waste you’ll have nothing left to tax.

Institute a system of free votes in the Legislature for all matters, including the budget, except explicit votes of confidence in the government.

Agreed, except for the confidence votes. They should be done away with entirely.

Strengthen and support the Freedom of Information Act to make information accessible in a timely manner.

Hard to disagree with this one, except for matters that must remain secret for security purposes. Yes, such matters do exist.

Introduce effective “whistle-blower” legislation.

And why should we support people in their delusions that they can continue to work at an agency where they have poisoned relationships with betrayal, even if justified?

Remove electric stun devices from all law enforcement agencies within BC.

Fine. We’ll go back to using blackjacks and machine guns. Does this make you happy?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-05-12 10:27:17 AM

P.S. I'm voting for the Liberals; they have a proven track record, whereas any other party, including their chief competition, the NDP, has anything but. I'm also voting against STV; it sounds good in theory but would have the effect of producing more minority governments, and the current shenanigans in Ottawa do not make me eager to see them here.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-05-12 10:29:23 AM

Already voted in the advance poll. We had a high quality candidate running in this new riding of Cowichan Valley. No matter which party he was running for, I'd likely have voted for him; he impressed me and, according to local media reports (unfortunately not online), many others in this community too. So, my vote: Green and BC-STV.

Posted by: Chrystal Ocean | 2009-05-12 10:59:56 AM

Kalim, quick quiz: Four of these are Green Party policies, and one is from the tyrannical 'moocher' government in Atlas Shrugged. Can you tell which is which?

- amend the corporations act, to force corporations to be responsible to their workers and to the community at large - not just the greedy shareholders.

- end economic growth, and hold the line with a steady state economy.

- introduce an anti 'dog-eat-dog' rule, to end ruinous competition.

- creation of a state-funded youth corps, to go out and clean up the province for 6 month terms which may or may not be voluntary.

- gambling's too addictive, a Green government will help people who can't help themselves and phase in a prohibition on gambling

Posted by: Robert Jago | 2009-05-12 12:10:05 PM

While Kalim makes a good case for the Green party, I cannot in good conscience vote for them. Any party that is more interested in saving trees and polar bears, rather than supporting growth and human achievement cannot be good for society.

Economic freedom is essential to political freedom and the green movement has shown that it is nothing more than modern day communism. Any plan to end "man made global warming" will come at a huge expense to taxpayers and require an unprecedented amount of government interference in our lives.

I voted Liberal and no to STV. I support electoral reform, but I think they picked the worst possible system.

Posted by: Jesse Kline | 2009-05-12 12:40:13 PM


The "dog-eat" dog rule is the one instituted by the Mouch regime in Atlas Shrugged, but I admit that those other proposals are hardly better.


As you suggested, most Green Party candidates are members of the watermelon movement--green on the outside and red on the inside. I was very choosy when I selected the proposals I did.

I would want to know that a candidate, Green or otherwise, had some understanding of the limits of government before giving them my costly and worthless vote.

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-05-12 3:27:14 PM

Well I just voted in New West and I voted Liberal because I don't like Dawn Black and No to STV

Posted by: Danny | 2009-05-12 3:41:34 PM

There is no real right-wing party running province-wide! The Conservatives are only moderately center-right and running in only 40% of ridings. The same deal with the Libertarians. The NDP are hard left socialists. The Greens are also hard left radicals. The Greens have ties with both the federal Greens and the other Green parties worldwide. All the Green parties worldwide(with the exception of Mexico's Green Party) are far left. The Mexican Green Party was kicked out of the international Green party organization because it both supported the death penalty and was pro-business. The only option in most provincial ridings are the centrist Liberals. I wish that we had a party like Reform, Christian Heritage, or the Wildrose Alliance running in B.C. but they don't exist! Anything other than a vote for the Liberals helps the NDP.

Posted by: Larry | 2009-05-12 7:50:08 PM


I thought the BC Libertarian Party was libertarian (which you could reasonably characterize as far-right, far-left, or transcending the left/right distinction). How are they centre-right?

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-05-12 8:13:21 PM

What happened to the Greens? No write-up on them.

Posted by: Jab | 2009-05-12 8:19:43 PM

I think Larry meant the Libertarians were only running in ~40% of the ridings. You really have to run a full slate of candidates in order to be taken seriously. Maybe I'll put my name on the ballot next time.

Posted by: Jesse Kline | 2009-05-12 11:24:00 PM


Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-05-12 11:36:46 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.