23 April 2009

Tough choice in BC

As much as I appreciate exercising my right to vote, I'm not unhappy I won't be required to exercise it in the coming B.C. election. I would face a choice I would rather avoid. My usual party of choice, the NDP, are on the wrong side of one of the issues of greatest importance to me and sitting on the fence on another.

I believe electoral reform is an essential step toward improving our democracy. The egregious weaknesses of our current voting system, first-past-the-post, are well known. In the upcoming May 12th election, B.C. voters will have the opportunity to dump first-past-the-post and replace it with an excellent proportional system, single transferable vote (STV). To my chagrin, the NDP is not officially taking a position on the referendum even though the great majority of its members support the need for reform. The party of the people is not, it seems, unduly concerned about ensuring the people are fairly represented in their legislature.

An even bigger issue is global warming. Indeed this is the mother of all issues, the one that has to be dealt with if any other issues are going to matter at all. (I don't much like single-issue voting, but when it comes to the most important issue facing humanity, I could make an exception.) One of the key instruments in dealing with global warming is a carbon tax. We, all of us, should pay for our pollution. The B.C. NDP thinks otherwise and promises to rid the province of its carbon tax if elected. After Dion's hapless promotion of it in the federal election, this could fatally harm one of the best tools we have to deal with the greatest challenge we face.

All is not lost however. The B.C. Green Party supports both STV and a carbon tax. As a B.C. voter, I would have an alternative without having to support Gordon Campbell and his Liberals (mind you, they deserve credit for introducing a carbon tax in the first place). Only with reluctance would I abandon the party of which I am a member, but on two issues of this exceptional importance, I would feel forced into it. The NDP complains about the Green Party undermining the left by taking votes away from them --- in B.C. they are handing the Greens votes on a platter.

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