The official May 14 election campaign kicks off Tuesday and it's a scary thought to be this invested in the outcome. I may have won my March Madness pool with a solid bracket last week, but I'm having a far more challenging time assessing two contending political parties than picking one winning basketball team out of 64 for the NCAA championship.
A few short days from now, the writ will drop on the 2013 provincial election, kicking off twenty-eight days of heated campaigning. And while there's no shortage of issues for voters to consider, recent controversies around government secrecy and attempts to undermine Freedom of Information make it clear that information policy should be a top priority for voters.
It was no joke; on April 1st B.C. officially scrapped the HST and in one fell swoop, restored the old Provincial Sales Tax system. But moving back to the PST will cause harm to the provincial economy and B.C. families will lose out on the increased prosperity and jobs that the HST would have encouraged. Since our province will be poorer with the PST, it falls on our political leaders to take action to lessen the impact.
Would you trust a leader who won't make concrete commitments to openness and transparency? Many British Columbians will be asking themselves that very question over the next six weeks.
British Columbians shouldn't need to pull out their chequebook to talk to their government. Between them, the B.C. Liberals and NDP brought in more than $17 million. The Liberals alone raised $10.15 million, nearly $4 million dollars more than their Ontario cousins did in 2011 and half of what the Conservative party spent in the 2011 federal election campaign.
Having served under Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals when they were elected 12 years ago, first makes me think about how damn old I'm getting. Next, it makes me think that it is, in fact, time for a change.
Where politicians and pundits are right is that there is more political power in our generation than even we realize. Organizations, social movements and politicians lusting after "young voters" is actually making the problem worse. The narrowing of electoral participation as a direct translation to political action has led us to miss the forest for the trees, a forest that in Canada is probably being threatened to be clear cut, plowed for a pipeline, or removed to make way for a new mine -- and that's a big, big problem.
The most outlandish move was to promote the Wood Innovation and Design Centre as a 10-storey, wood frame building, making it the tallest wood structure in the world. What about building codes, safety assessments, economic viability, and financial feasibility? Evidently, this government felt those are questions more suitably dealt with after the fact. That simply is not good and responsible government.
My ancestry doesn't define what I feel is most important. The essentialist logic that just because I'm South Asian an apology for the Komagata Maru incident is the paramount focus of my political identity -- and that its resolution would sway me to support a particular political party -- is insulting. I, like all Canadians, am more than just one thing.
Frankly, the hypocrisy between what Christy Clark says and what she does is stunning, dwarfed only by her inability to understand why she is so low in the polls. It comes down to character and integrity -- unfortunately for Clark, voters seem to think she has little of either, and with limp jokes like this, it's no wonder.
Dear Premier Clark, If you didn't hear or say anything, then your incompetence is beyond belief (actually, come to think of it, there's plenty of other evidence on that point). If this is the case, then you must resign. If, on the other hand, you knew what was happening, premier, then you must also resign.
For a newbie, it's a lot to keep up with, especially after a week's break from the election proceedings. But I've learnt the hard way: you can't turn your back on politics for one moment or you're lost. Pretty much where I'm sitting right now. After a full day of political catch up, I'm still working my inner Nancy Drew trying to make sense of the past few days of mayhem, and what the online community has labeled #EthnicGate.
Party leaders will say all the right things to deny the obvious: we're campaigning for the votes of all British Columbians, we don't take any vote for granted, or we're running to win in all 85 ridings. But after all that voter ID, statistical analysis and polling, strategists know very well that there's likely less than 250,000 voters living in less than half of B.C.'s 85 ridings who will actually count on May 14. And the two main parties will fish where the fish are.
When Christy Clark took over as premier of British Columbia two years ago, she had a window of opportunity to change taxpayers' perceptions of her government. To improve her chances in the 2013 election, Clark needed to throw out unpopular and unworkable ideas brought in by her predecessor Gordon Campbell. In a symbolic way, she needed to string a huge banner over the B.C. Legislature that said, "Under New Management."
With the May 14 provincial election approaching, I have decided that this time is going to be different; this time I will be informed. Becoming politically savvy evokes anxiety for an amateur like me. I have to sift through an overload of messages, rhetoric, jargon, and buzzwords. I can't compete with the political junkie, and I don't intend to. I just want to make sense of the basics.
Legislative oversight is fundamental to good government. And with less and less of it, the government does more and more by decree. B.C. isn't well-served by that. In 2012, the B.C. legislature sat for 47 days. Among its numerous legislative duties: to debate and approve a $44-billion budget. Forty-seven days is simply insufficient to do that and everything else well.