Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


YES indeed its a good day for B.C.

First off congratulations to the party leaders, Premier elect Mr Campbell, Ms James and Ms Carr. You articulated your vision and the voters were provided alternatives. As they always do, the citizens proved once again, that it gets what it wants.

To the smaller parties, Thank You for providing voters with other options. It takes bravery to run in a campaign when you know loss certainly looms, however, you do so in order to give voters choices and this is what democracy should always be about.

To all candidates who ran and were not successful, Thank You for running. Never waver on your aspirations and dreams. Hold your head up high for it takes determination and sheer guts to offer yourself up to the electorate.

To the winning candidates, you are leaders who must always stand up for the greater good. Never forget its the people who you must always represent. Best wishes for your continued success!

Now for a few random thoughts on the election.

Citizens were provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the way we vote. Voters took the challenge and voted overwhelmingly for change. The Single Transferable Vote (STV) passed easily and by a very strong majority. At last count the YES vote was almost 57% in favor. This signals enormous change and our legislators must be responsive to this desire.

While the government decided STV would need a 60% vote in favour, this is not an acceptable democratic standard. Politicians do not need to meet this threshold and neither should YES to STV.

STV did pass and by a very strong margin. The citizens articulated the desire for parliamentary reform and the new government must ensure this change happens. To not do so further alienates the electorate and this doesn't bode well for democracy. What's in the greater public interest must prevail.

Speaking of democracy, it appears that voters are increasingly being turned off by the electoral process. A sampling of voter turn-out in ridings presented in today's Sun, showed significant decreases. In Vancouver-Burrard where the race was particularly nasty, only 26% of registered voters actually voted. In Vancouver-Mt Pleasant only 40% of voters went to the polls. In Vancouver-Pt Grey, the Premier's home riding, voter turn-out was a measly 41%. And in NDP leader Carole James riding of Victoria-Beacon Hill, 48% of registered voters actually voted. This spells disaster for democracy and politicians must shoulder this responsibility.

In the Vancouver-Burrard race which is fairly close, it appears Councillor Tim Stevenson may have blown it by allowing outsiders (namely Mayor Larry Campbell and Councillor Jim Green) to smear his chief opponent Lorne Mayencourt. Mayor Campbell made outrageous claims that Mr Mayencourt is a menace to society. This was unnecessary and absolutely uncalled for. Mayor Campbell's actions speak volumes of why the electorate is turning away from politics.

Turning to the Green party and its fortunes, one wonders whether leader Adriane Carr should remain at the helm. Ms Carr has done an admirable job of leading the party into battle. She like the previous leader before her, Stuart Parker, brought the party to where it now resides. It appears the time is now right for GREEN party renewal.

In politics, strategy is everything and Ms Carr and party members must now embrace that the GREEN party is really a small party. It cannot continue to act like a big party. In terms of the GREENS, we must move ahead with planning for the future. It is obvious that we have maintained popular support around 10-15%. To make a breakthrough will require smarter strategic thinking.

To run candidates in every single riding dilutes the GREEN vote. With scarce resources and money available to us, members would be much better off if the GREEN party ran candidates in ridings where they do significantly better than their regional average. These ridings include, the West and North Vancouver's, Van-Burrard, Van-Pt Grey, Van-Langara, Nelson Creston and a few on the Island. At most the GREENS should contest 20 or so ridings. GREEN leadership hopefully will embrace this concept. To not do so will ensure the GREENS remain a marginal party without political import and that would be a grave disservice to our environment and society.

Well folks there you have it my random thoughts on yesterday's election.

Jamie Lee Hamilton