Newsletter – March 2013
March 2013 Newsletter for Seniors on Vancouver Island
We are about to have a provincial election in British Columbia. Politics here in BC have over the last forty years become more and more polarised between the two major parties, more aggressive and bitter. We seem to have in many ways to have followed our neighbours to the south where more emphasis is spent demonising the other parties and less and less on the real concerns of electorate.
Here on Vancouver Island I would suggest that amongst the issues needing to be addressed the focus should be health, education, jobs and environment. We need to elect people that will focus our needs and priorities not those of their party. We need a more diverse group of elected officials that better reflect the population as a whole with regards to gender, age and ideas. It is time to change this. We can play a major role in bringing this to fruition. Not only must we vote, but must talk to our children, our grandchildren, our friends and neighbours about what sort of society do we want here on Vancouver Island. Vote for positive issues. If you don’t, who will?
The article below was written for Seniors 101 by Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party of BC.
Voting for a more diverse and collaborative legislature
By Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party of BC
What’s gone wrong inside our legislature? What’s broken and needs fixing?
If you’re a senior you remember when politicians behaved like gentlemen – they were mostly men after all – and when we trusted that our legislators were acting in our best interests. The Socreds under W. A. C. Bennett transformed BC Ferries and BC Hydro into Crown Corporations. The NDP under Dave Barrett established the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC). Although currently all these institutions need some tough love so they function better, each has stood the test of time.
At the national level, the party that traces its roots to Tommy Douglas and the one that shares its name with Lester B. Pearson worked across party lines in a minority parliament to bring us Medicare and the Canada Pension Plan.
It used to be that elections were fought around issues. Most people voted for the candidate they thought would do the best job in the legislature. We voted because it was a public duty and because we thought our MLA, no matter which party he represented, would work on our behalf.
For the past 30 to 40 years, however, we have seen parties exercise greater and stricter control over their representatives. Accompanying the increase in party control has been a concentration of power in the Premier’s office and the entry of negative hyper-partisanship into the legislature.
In our last elections we have seen fewer and fewer people voting. To me that sounds like we have given up hope for change. Instead of giving up, I decided I’d work to improve the political climate in BC. I represent the Green Party of BC because it’s a party that lives by a set of principles, has great policies and believes a diversity of opinion as a prerequisite for healthy debate.
We think this legislature needs to stop its political infighting and collaborate across party lines. It’s time to work on your behalf instead of protecting the system. It’s been done in the past and it can be done again.
BC Greens don’t believe in a Whip system. Whips are a party’s “enforcers”, who use inducements, threats and punishments to ensure that MLAs speak and vote according to the prescribed official party policy. It’s a uniquely Canadian and particularly unhelpful phenomenon. Greens believe a collaborative, consensus based team can function more effectively than a whipped caucus and as a result, it can work on behalf of the people of BC instead of the party.
On a personal level, the job will be more rewarding for Green MLAs. And, at the same time, we’ll be more accountable to all of the people we represent.
I also want to give you and your community more opportunity to participate in the legislative process. In my conversations with you, I know how much you can contribute to lawmakers. I want to expand the process of community consultation so we do a better job in BC.
I’ll establish citizen advisory groups and Citizens’ Assemblies to examine issues of public policy and to provide me with advice. I plan to make the Constituency Office a centre for community innovation and action. I want to use social media too, so we can involve younger people who know the power of those technologies to improve our sense of community. We need the best thinking of all of us through all means possible if we hope to address the serious problems we face in BC.
My first commitment to you is to be a positive change agent within the legislature. My second is to involve you in the legislative process so I can represent you, your family and our community in the legislature.
I also know you’re tired of secrecy and scandal from your government, especially when it’s about matters that cost you tax dollars. You want the truth. My third commitment: I promise to tell you the truth.
The BC Green Party has lots of good ideas for reforming government and for making ministries and government agencies more effective. We believe in strong local economies, efficient government and healthy people, healthy places. On my website, www.janesterk.ca you can find my ideas for change. The policies of the Green Party of BC can be found at http://www.greenparty.bc.ca/green_book_2013.
I’m Jane Sterk, your Green Party candidate for Victoria-Beacon Hill.