Now is not the time for Apathy

March 26, 2009

Thanks to everyone who came out and helped organize the Referendum Of A Liftetime info session this afternoon in the Norm Theatre.  Thanks especially to all our speakers Stephen Owen, Jane Sterk and Craig Henschel as well as Dan Grice from the campaign.  In case you missed it I was livetweeting the whole event, you can find it by looking up #roal on twitter.

The event today had a good group of about 30 people and there were lots of questions and a deep discussion of the tradeoffs between STV, MMP and FPTP.  I think everyone who attended came away feeling like they learned something and that something very important is about the happen in British Columbia.

For all those who didn’t come, but who want BC-STV to pass.  Keep talking to people and spreading the word.  Our worst enemy is not the No campaign, its apathy and lack of awareness.  Most people who spend a few minutes to think about our voting system realize it needs to be changed.  Most people who understand the basics of BC-STV realize that its our best shot at getting that reform.  It doesn’t mean its perfect, it means its a thousand times better than what we have now, and if it needs a few tweeks down the road, then thats fine too.  So find out about other upcoming BC-STV events (and FairVote Canada events), volunteer to make phonecalls, to go knock on doors or just donate money to the campaign so other people can do that effectively.

And if you believe in your heart that it is going to pass anyways, because British Columbians are just so reasonable… I hope you’re right, I think you are, but I don’t want to risk too much confidence.  The bar is 60% not 50%, so that is already quite difficult.  Also, think about if it makes a difference by how much it passes? Imagine if rather than barely squeaking by with 61% of the vote that instead over 75% of people vote yes to voting reform.  This would send a strong message to the rest of Canada and the to the world that here is a group of people willing to try a better way.  They will see the resulting parliament with a mixture of different opinions, a real presence for the Green party, the end of the sleight of hand of a Liberal party with no Conservative party and countless other results that we can’t even imagine.  For Green supporters and those who care about global warming in particular,  think about the impact this single referendum could have in the years to come on Canada’s approach to global warming.

No Green party member has every been elected to office in Canada either provincially or federally.  BC-STV or other proportional systems would guarantee at least a few Green party MLAs in the legislature.  The candidates from other parties will also have to address environmental issues if they want the second and third votes of people voting for Green party members.  This will dramatically change the steps BC is willing to take to address global warming.  This will in turn influence the discussion in other provinces and in Ottawa as well.  If other districts switch to STV after the successful rollout in BC then this effect will be magnified.  The fact is that if the governments of Canada actually listened to Canadians then environmental policy and adherence to global, real goals would be at the top of their policy priorities after the basics of the economy are dealt with.  With First Past the Post politicians don’t really need to listen to Canadians, they only need to convince enough people, in concentrated areas that they are the lesser of four evils (or five in Quebec).

Isn’t it time for that to change? Isn’t it time for BC to be the one to change it?  Do you suffer from  “Western Alienation<sup>TM</sup>“? Wouldn’t it be great for BC to send out a loud, decisive yell to Victoria and Ottawa telling them their days of centralized power are over, that it is the voters who decide who represents them?  That even within their own party we will choose who will make it in and who won’t and their policy will change whether the powers in the party like it or not? We won’t play along anymore as parties claim a ‘mandate’  when they only have 40% of the vote and all the other votes are wasted?

We demand better and we’re going to get it.  But you need to get out there and convince people, let them know what is happening.  No one else is going to do it for us and we may not get another shot at this for decades.  If you are still reading this I don’t have to tell you to vote Yes for BC-STV, you probably already are.  Now you need to do more than vote, you need to convince someone else to vote yes who wouldn’t have otherwise.  If everyone did that, it would be enough.  You can do more of course, but thats a start.


3 Responses to “Now is not the time for Apathy”

  1. Brooke Says:

    If anybody thinks this is a done deal, have a look at newspapers from “Beyond Hope” (rural communities). There are an awful lot of people out there who don’t want change. It’s our job to convince them what change in our electoral system means, and why it will benefit them.

    We have a lot of work to do.

  2. Mark Crowley Says:

    Thanks Brooke, very true, since this site is UBC based any current UBC students who are going home for the summer and live “Beyond Hope” or in any small town in BC, please get in touch with us or the campaign to see what you can do to help raise awareness in your hometown. You could bring home a stash of tshirts and buttons for example and hand them out in town.

  3. Mark Crowley Says:

    There is an article on the campaign blog about this, how switching to BC-STV will benefit rural areas of BC as well.

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