Give thought to your democratic privilege

Don’t go in with the fear that voting for a lesser-known party or individual will damage the process

In the world of B.C. politics, there is no set of rules such as those for boxing, i.e. Marquess of Queensberry Rules. The writ has been dropped; the campaigning starts and the dog and pony show is the order of the day until election day in May. That’s the way it has been in the past and it will likely be that way for some time to come.

Let’s see how the scenario plays out before we visit or revisit Christy Clark’s pageant of the Liberals. The legislature was scheduled to meet a total of 66 days for this year’s session. This year, the House sat for 23 of those 66 scheduled days. There were several bills left unpassed.

These might have passed had there not been a three-week spring break prior to the dropping of the writ

Considering that after the last 29 per cent raise they got, MLAs are paid on average the sum of approximately $130,000 a year. If one does the basic math, based on this year’s in-session time, this equates to about $5,652 (before taxes) per in-sessional day (excluding the premier and leader of the opposition). Considering that the average family income in the province is around $53,000 a year, these poor MLAs need and deserve everything that they get for services rendered. I don’t believe that their expense budgets are included in the salary, whereas the average family has to include everything. So much for Christy Clark’s Family First promise. Another part of the Liberal legacy? Maybe.

There are some bones of contention out there and I’m sure that there will be some to follow before the election. These ones will be of the nature that could compare to two dogs fighting over the same scrap of meat or the same bone. One of these is the proposed budget, that didn’t get third reading in the House. The follow-up to that was the promise of a “balanced budget”. The opposition claims that the budget is far from balanced and, in fact, there is a deficit of about $750 million. Who’s right? Who or what do we believe? The election will not prove or disprove what’s the truth.

We can liken this election to two trains on the same track, coming toward one another with the ultimate goal of reaching the station first. The Liberal train has had several glitches along the way. One cannot overlook the Family First promise; the massive job creation promise; the prudent spending promise (not to mention the $15 million ad campaign and the ethnic vote buying monies); the BC Rail sale and scandal; the Fast Ferry give away and the promise of a balanced budget. If I were in the Liberals’ position, I certainly wouldn’t want to have these things as part of a legacy. Would you?

What is the lesson to be learned here, you might ask. Looking back, we allowed 51 per cent of eligible voters to determine our political fate last time. We can blame voter apathy stemming from whatever reasons those who did not vote may give. All of these reasons, from my perspective, are inexcusable, lame-duck reasons. We have a privilege in B.C. and in Canada. How is it that so many of us abuse this privilege and then sit around after the fact to try to justify as to why we didn’t exercise our right to vote?

Well before election day, I encourage everyone to look carefully at parties, individuals and projected platforms before deciding to cast your ballot. Get rid of the “lesser of the two evils” theory. Give credence to those that truly reflect democratic principles. Don’t go in with the fear that voting for a lesser-known party or individual will damage the process.

Vote with head and heart — but make sure that you vote.

Ron Barillaro

 

Penticton