The Most Important Election in a Generation

April 15, 2009

In his campaign kickoff speech yesterday, premier Gordon Campbell proclaimed that this election will be the most important election in a generation. The choice voters make this election will indeed reverberate through BC and Canada for decades to come, but not based on whether we choose to have the NDP or the Liberals run the province for the next few years.  The choice that matters is whether we decide to stay with the current First-Past-The-Post electoral system or switch to BC-STV. 

If the voters choose to take a chance, to choose hope over fear, to say “yes, we believe politics can be better”, then the next election will be very different.  Next time, the NDP and Liberal candidates will be wary of attacking each other so harshly in case they loose getting second and third transfer votes.  The NDP and Liberals will actively court Green voters rather than deride them.  Green voters will have, for the first time ever in Canada, the ability to express their true choice as well as list the ‘lesser evils’ they would be willing to accept to represent them.  Currently, a Green voter must either stick to their guns and accept losing or vote strategically for the least worst candidate from the other parties.  Voters for even smaller parties will have their voices heard for the first time as they list their second and third and fifth preferences for mainstream parties without having to abandon their own personal cause.

How the political parties react to this new order and how voters react we can only guess.  But after the past few years of electoral traffic jams in Ottawa under the current system and the consolidation of BC politics into two artificial blocks, surely everyone can see that something needs to change. BC-STV isn’t perfect either, but its a heck of a lot closer than the current system, and it includes hope for a more civil, more representative democracy where every vote counts and every voice is heard.  If we miss this chance, it will be a choice for a generation as well, because that’s how long it will take to convince people to try another referendum.

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