2011: Year of the Voter in BC

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Will the United Nations be declaring this as Year of the Voter in BC?

Voters in B.C. have a right to feel a tad overworked these days. That’s because since the beginning of 2011, we’ve been inundated with all kinds of political talk.

Do you think the rest of the year is going to offer a change of pace? Think again.

The ball got rolling when former Premier Gordon Campbell resigned last year. That decision triggered a leadership review within the B.C.

Liberal Party. Not long after, Carole James was pushed out of the B.C. NDP. We were off to the races.

In February, the B.C. Liberals chose Premier Christy Clark as their new leader while the NDP selected Adrian Dix to become Opposition Leader.

These mini “elections” to choose party leaders were merely the political appetizer.

Last month, in Ottawa, federal opposition parties decided it was time to call a federal election. On Monday, Canadians went to the polls and elected a majority Conservative government.

Meanwhile, a by-election has also been called on May 11 for the Vancouver-Point Grey riding. Civil rights activist David Eby is challenging Premier Christy Clark to become B.C.’s newest member of the legislative assembly.

If all that isn’t enough for you, the HST referendum will heat up the political scene in the next few weeks. That means even more phone calls and pamphlets from the Yes and No sides of the consumption tax debate.

A number of pundits are predicting we’ll be into another provincial election this fall. Shortly thereafter we’ll be heading into the civic election planned for Nov. 19.

As the last political event of the year, I sure hope that all this talk of politics will inspire people to vote in their local municipal election. As we all know, voter turnout has hovered around only 30 per cent in the last few municipal elections, and just twice that for federal votes.

Sadly, I think it may end up having the opposite effect and result in record numbers of people staying at home.

A recent tweet I read kind of sums up the political situation we’re facing this year. It said the United Nations should declare this as “Year of the Voter” in British Columbia.

Given the intensity of political activity this year, it would be tough to argue otherwise.

- Post by Daniel. This column was originally published in the Vancouver edition of 24 Hours newspaper. Daniel writes their weekly civic affairs column which is distributed throughout Vancouver every Thursday. Follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus.



The casino project is going ahead but not in the scope that was orignially planned.

Thankfully, no jobs will be lost, but few jobs will be gained.

The final vote came down to the City,
not the Province.

I will not vote Conservative, not this time, as I would hate to see the NDP get in and take the wrecking ball to what has been built over the last years.

Adrain Dix is the death knell to business.

I too was a supporter of the Casino, but I will not let my Provincial politics judgement get clouded.

What happened with this project was at the City level.

Oh, my new 'local slogan:

Christy Clark = Families First

David Eby = Polygmist Families First

I fear you may be right Daniel, which is frustrating for someone like me who thinks the municipal level should become the senior level of government. What can we do to get more people engaged in the election. Are wards part of the answer? More community level planning? Other events? Some way to tie this to lifelong learning?


Could you expand on this for me..

"municipal level should become the senior level of government."


OK, I know I am dreaming here, but I would like to see power flow up from the municipal level to the provincial and federal levels. Specifically, funds would flow from the municipal to the provincial to the federal level rather than trickle down from above. Cities, not nations, are the true economic engines. It would be good to bring government closer to us. As a start, I would like all cities to have charters (I know Vancouver has an anemic one) that they control and that would define their powers of taxation and the reposibilities the city government has to its people.

do you mean that taxes collected in Vancouver to be managed by Vancouver politicians for us, giving some up the chain... sorry if I'm not clear..

As soon as the city becomes the tax collector, you are giving power and clout to the Gregor Robertsons and Rob Fords of Canada, over the smaller cities and towns across Canada that have neither the population nor commercial tax base to provide completely for their own infrastructure.

Government should be more responsive to its citizens, but I am not sure that regional city states are the answer.

Yes, that is the general idea. Right now the bulk of taxes are collected by 'senior' levels of government and then redistributed. Municipal governments have very few tax levers they can pull and so are over reliant on property taxes and fees. Would we get a more accountable government if we switched things around?

"Would we get a more accountable government if we switched things around?"

Thanks Steven for clarification... My fear is that we would have a less accountable municipal government if we switched things around.

I am not sure either, but we are currently doing is not working well. And if the city government had more responsibility people might take city elections more seriously and we might get better governments. What would you suggest?

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