I returned home recently from casting my ballots for the Referendum on Electoral Reform and for the provincial election. Passing a ‘save our schools’ sign near the parking lot of Connaught Heights Elementary School, we were greeted warmly by our fellow citizens and after a short paperwork check, we voted. I am one of those kooks that really like voting and now as I write, my wife and I are glued to our radios and computers, absorbing the returns (none yet) as they come in.
One point that struck me was the truth or falsity of the claim that a vote for the governing party is a wise move for a riding. The theory goes thus: if your riding has an MLA or an MP that is part of the governing party, your voice is more likely to be heard. Looking over the last 2 election cycles here in British Columbia, I don’t know if that is true. In our province, it is the opposition MLAs are able to fight for injustices, roil and debate in the legislature and generally cause a ‘hullabaloo’ on behalf of the constituency.
Think of the Liberal party discipline: write a questionable letter, you’re out. Speak up against established party doctrine: you’re out, or side-lined.
If you think about it, most of the reasons you need to get your MLA to go to bat for you are due to the actions of the government. School policies, hospital closures, waste and transit initiatives that impact your community; these things are brought by government and if there is a real concern and if your rep is in government, aren’t you S.O.L?A concrete example is MLA and AG Wally Oppal and insurgent indy candidate Vicki Huntington. The popularity of Ms. Huntington can be seen as a direct result of Mr. Oppals inability to represent the views of his riding in the public forum. If his voters don’t see him as their man, whose is he?
That brings me to STV. Imagine a riding with more than one MLA. One in government, one or two in opposition. Even if you voted for the MLA that is in government as your #1 choice, you have two other reps to go to bat for you if the some policy of the government threatens to bite you in the rear. Gone is the four year dictatorship. Instead we get a continuous conversation with the citizen.
As we go into the next cycle, I hope the STV will have passed, and the results of the next election will truely reflect the views of British Columbians and the citizens of New Westminster.
Matthew Laird is well known in New Westminster for his advocacy for a more liveable city. He has a strong record of service in this community and can always be seen volunteering at events around town. As a founder of New Westminster Environmental Partners, and VP of both the Quayside Community Board and Royal City Farmers’ Market Society, he also has proven leadership and a connection to the community. He was drawn to the Green Party platform by their focus on forward thinking and prevention.
Too often governments act in a reactive fashion: after someone is sick and needing hospitalization, after a crime has occurred and victims are suffering, after our transportation system is in gridlock and we’re facing a climate crisis, after the economy has collapsed due to lack of regulatory oversight Most crises can be predicted and planned for, saving money and lives. Matthew believes now is time to transition our economy to a more sustainable model. One based on local business and a steady state economy – which the UK government has recently released a report advocating for. Matthew believes we can build a sustainable economy where everyone prospers.
Matthew’s priorities are:
Advocate for innovation in our healthcare system, programs to streamline and better use existing resources while maintaining a fully public healthcare system. (recommended reading: Dr. Michael Rachlis, Prescription for Excellence)
Establish a “wellness” priority for our healthcare system, the best way to lower healthcare costs is to keep people out of hospitals to begin with
Establish a transit-first strategy for addressing our regional transportation crisis, because no city has ever built their way out of congestion
Ending our reactionary justice system and instead preventing crime before it occurs by proactively addressing its root causes: poverty, addiction, mental health issues
Raise the minimum wage and work with the Federal government on a “guaranteed minimum income” program, because even $10/hr is still below the poverty line
Properly fund our education system, because a growing district should never have to contemplate school closures
In these uncertain times New Westminster needs proven leadership focused on securing jobs and supporting our economy. Nobody is more qualified for that than Premier Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberal team.
I want to ensure our community continues to prosper by keeping jobs secure,creating new jobs, housing the homeless, and improving health care and education services for all.