BC-STV Debate Follows All Candidates Event.

In Favour Greg Henschel, opposed Anita Hagen.

Henschel was a member of the Citizens Assembly on Election Reform. He was chosen at random to participate. He reminds us that the assembly was brought together by the government to give recommendations on electoral reform after recent elections ( for example in 2001 when the Liberals won all but 2 seats with 53% of the popular vote).  After much discussion and research, the group settled on STV as a way to provide multiple MLAs to represent the population more accurately. With no time to present the details of the STV plan, he asks us to see his video.  I have embedded it here.

Anita Hagen, former BC cabinet minister, speaking against BC-STV and the current first-past-the-post, says that the system is not proven and not applicable for large geographic areas. One new riding will be bigger than Ireland. The size of the constituencies leads to representatives that may not understand all areas of the problems. Ms. Hagen explains that it is complicated and could dissuade voters. Hagen speaks directly and brings a sense of urgency to the issue. She suggests that a “no stv” vote now could lead to a better solution tomorrow. She insists that he does not represent the first-past-the-post system but rather that she opposes BC-STV. One concern for Hagen would be a dilution of public accountability. More information can be found at www.nostv.org.

Want another New Westminster Debate Laugh?

Public Question: Greg can you explain STV in 10 seconds? Greg: Yes.

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Excuse me, Ms. Black, what about this byelection?

In response to this question from the public, NDP candidate Dawn Black, the recently elected federal MP for the NDP references the illness of current NDP MLA Chuck Puchmayr as a driving force in her decision to leave federal politics and enter the Provincial race. This election posed too many important issues to allow the traditionally NDP riding to go to another party.

Green candidate Matt Laird had a zinger when he announced that he thought Ms. Black was doing a great job in Ottawa. He suggested she continue to do a good job… In Ottawa. Best laugh this evening.

Ms. Millar claims Ms. Black is shirking her responsibility to the public and leaving a $500,000 bill for the byelection to boot. Something tells me she doesn’t think that Dawn Black’s Provincial conversion was so funny. Black points out that with the current state of Federal politics, a general election will be called any time anyway so a byelection may not be necessary to begin with.

In closing statements, Liberal candidate Carole Millar announces that the NDP treats New Westminster as “a retirement post for the party faithful,” a possible dig at the age or Federal experience of Dawn Black. Both Laird and Black looked aghast at the comment. Calls of “low blow” are issued by the croud. Some are offended but many applaud the jibe, if only because it was so tawdry.

The comment doesnt really make sense to me as Puchmayr is not retirement material and in fact left the race due to illness. Federal New Democrat Peter Julian is quite young by MP standards so he cannot be said to have been given a plumb retirement post. Dawn  Black does not seem to be retiring into the riding either, as she is clearly replacing the ailing Puchmayr and further is likely to become a clear leadership candidate for the Provincial branch of the NDP.

Matt Laird notes Ms. Millar’s comment is an example of why BC-STV should be approved: to help end the partisan name-calling and roadblocks that prevent our province from going forward. An STV presentation will follow the All Candidates debate.

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Hey! What About the BC Rail Fiasco?

Question from the public on BC Rail. When will we get some answers? What about Patrick Kinsella? What about the Premier’ s Promise?

Carole Millar offers the BC Liberal non-answer: “That is before the courts.” The hall erupts with jeering and cat calls. NDP’s Dawn Black enters the fray, strongly condemning the BC Liberals and reminding everyone that the Premier promised not to sell the railway: “This stinks and the Premier needs to come clean. ”

Agreeing, BC Green Party’s Matthew Laird states: “This cronyism is not new.” He offers a perfect segue to call for a yes-vote to BC-STV. “Government accountability in this province depends on this.” Big applause.

This topic has so far been the most resonant with the folks here.

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