I am one of many conflicted BC residents and potential voters in 2017.
Unless you have been living under a rock (probably where a number of affiliated political party directors have been hiding), you know that there has been a 2017 campaign was at different times: self-congratulatory, entitled, offensive, unacceptably partisan, too broad-based on issues, too focused on single issues, alarmist, conspiracy theoretical and too often, disingenuous and factually misleading.
A surprising spectrum of political interests have declared their intention to represent you, the voter and taxpayer, in the BC legislature. Most of them have established and known political party affiliations but a significant number are relative unknowns.
I am not certain that this is unique to BC but I do know that 18 registered political parties have forwarded candidates and that 33 independent candidates and 2 candidates described as ‘no affiliation’ have also entered the fray. This strikes me as a significantly high number of political choices for the average BC voter.
There are 371 declared and eligible candidates distributed among the 20 total different political iterations from which we, as voters, can choose.
If you believe the expensive and over-saturated advertisements that assault you ‘ad nauseam’ on network television, radio and even the social media websites, the choices are simple – you must choose the sitting Liberals who are the ‘only’ political party t0 create jobs and keep BC from economic ruin in the potential hands of the evil and destructive NDP (according to the BC Liberals implied rhetoric).
Or, you must choose the NDP, who are going to claw money back from the ‘entitled and 2% wealthiest in BC’ while forwarding economic promises that seem, at face value, to be questionably affordable and directed primarily to their (very) left of center voter support base.
Thirdly, you must consider the BC Greens, an emerging party that may well hold the balance of power in the BC legislature after all of the smoke clears. Andrew Weaver, leader of the Greens, is clearly enjoying the limelight and the growing support that genuinely makes the Greens the third party force that could well deny a majority government in the legislature.
The BC Libertarians have run 30 candidates in this election and that is the first indication that there is growing support among voters who are ‘less government’ advocates and tired of the status quo.
In spite of brave (and demonstrably incorrect) statements from the BC Conservatives and the SoCreds that they are still relevant, it is clear that time has passed them by and that they have again missed an incredible opportunity to remain a viable political option. To confirm how irrelevant the BC Conservative Party has become, take the time to read the May 7th ‘Platform Summary’ on the BCCP’s own website (bcconservative.ca). The initiatives highlighted are largely inconsequential and in many cases, not even ‘conservative’ in nature. The SoCreds, for their part, don’t even have a website.
New or relatively new parties such as Your Political Party and the Vancouver Island Party have nominated multiple candidates and have proven that there is an appetite for alternatives that are not entrenched in tired and increasingly unacceptable dogma from the traditional parties.
The candidates from the Christian Heritage Party and the Action Party are splinter parties from the conservative right.
We probably have a good and accurate perception of the intentions of the Communist Party but we collectively know less about the policies, intents and purpose of the remaining parties, including the ReFederation Party, the Cascadia Party, 4BC, BC First, Citizens First, Land Air Water, and New Republic.
Finally we have 33 candidates who are running as independents – clearly declaring their intent to represent the individuals who would elect them, rather than a ‘party machine’.
I’m not sure why 2 candidates are considered No Affiliation rather than Independent – but that is a differentiation that Elections BC can probably explain.
So where does that leave us?
Precisely where the political process normally does leave us. And exactly where the democratic political process should leave us.
We, each and every one of us, can decide how to exercise our franchise – our constitutionally enshrined right to self-determination through the process of electing representative legislators who should represent us by proxy.
Those elected individuals are oath bound to represent the best interests of their respective constituents – the very people who have elected them.
Those elected individuals will have a ‘fiduciary trust’ to ensure that they are acknowledging that they are ‘trustees’ of your assets and resources, and to enforce your right to the various freedoms you enjoy and the various responsibilities we collectively share.
The 87 individual constituencies will have certain challenges and initiatives that are individually unique and vital to the voters in that respective riding.
The collective 87 constituencies will have other options that affect us all, through the application of taxation alternative espoused by the parties and differing treatment of social issues including health care among others.
Back to my earlier question. Where does that leave us?
We should acknowledge that 371 individuals have committed to the possibility that they intend to represent you in the BC legislature – and that they have, as individuals, the skill set and the integrity to perform their fiduciary duties with honor and accountability.
We acknowledge the contribution that these individuals have committed to make.
We must now acknowledge our own commitment to a task that has implications for not just the next few years but for the direction and vitality of BC for future generations and decades to come.
Our responsibility is to ensure that the best qualified and the most accountable individuals are allowed to represent us in the legislature.
We must perform this task either because of, or sometimes in spite of, the promises, the policies and the ‘nasty nature’ of the blood sport of politics.
We must individually assess the quality and the potential of each candidate and weigh their personal attributes against the expectations and the constraints of their political party dogma, if they are party candidates.
We must, and this is a vital concern, assess each and every candidate on the basis of whether the candidate will be truly accountable to the voters who ultimately elect him or her.
History has shown that MLA’s can easily lose sight of the basic democratic principle of committing to represent the voters who elect that MLA, instead bowing to party based political pressures to alternatively represent special interests promoted by their respective political parties.
Assess and vote on the basis of the personal integrity of the candidate – before you trust in the integrity of the political party they have chosen to represent.
Is the system perfect? By no means. But the political system can be improved by ensuring that individuals with a true understanding of their individual responsibilities to the electorate are sworn into office in the BC legislature.
We congratulate all candidates for showing the determination and the courage to potentially represent we, the electorate, in your respective ridings.
If you are elected after the May 9th polling stations close, make sure you take time during the resulting congratulatory celebrations to reflect on your new responsibilities – and your legal, moral and ethical commitment to accountability to the voters who have placed their trust in you.
Do not abuse or misuse that trust.