I have been canvassing my neighbourhood this week, encouraging people to send in their referendum ballots and answering any questions that they might have. It has been an interesting learning experience and has given me some insight as to what is happening in this political exercise in Tsawwassen, at least.
- People are aware and active. The vast majority of people in my area have a very good idea of what is at stake in this referendum and have already made up their minds on which way to vote.
- People are voting. Of course, it might be due to the presence of a stranger, but most of the people I talked to told me they had already mailed in their ballots or had them sitting on the counter, ready to mail. Everyone intended to participate.
- Some people are having trouble with Question #2. The happiest people I talked to were those I told that they didn’t have to vote on the second half of the ballot. They were much more likely to vote on the first question when not confronted by the second more complex and less important choice.
Conclusions We Might Draw:
The biggest error the government made (besides putting the damned second question on the ballot at all) was in not making it clear that the second half was optional. It’s bad enough putting two questions on a referendum ballot, but having them of unequal weight and intent just muddies the waters. The No proponents have made their best arguments on this basis, and it is perhaps the only area where they are correct.
If You Are Still Unsure
Vote the first question and ignore the second one. I did, and I understand the three systems as well as most, having spent the last six months discussing them with all and sundry. Of course, I hope you will vote for the Yes side, but the saddest interchanges I have had are with people who voted No for a reason they don’t understand clearly.
If you’re thinking about voting No because you’ve fallen for the old, “It’s too complicated,” ploy, remember this:
This Referendum is About Approval in Principle
That’s what referendums are about. Yes or No. Once our elected officials have the green light from the voters, it’s time for them to sit down together and make the decisions about the complex details. It’s not really the job of the voters to make that kind of choice. We don’t know enough and we don’t have the time or expertise to do a good job. John Horgan is right on that one. We elected our MLAs to do our will, and we have to trust them to do it.
It’s the job of Elections BC to actually draw up the riding boundaries and choose the districts. Impartially. Unpolitically. Out of the spotlight of the public “scrutiny” that is sometimes a euphemism for “mob rule.” Out of the hands of political parties.
So Don’t Worry: Vote
Vote on whether you want BC to lead Canada into the government of the 21stCentury, or whether you want to try to cling to a past system that is failing us more every year. The people of B. C. need your vote. There would be nothing more ironic than having a referendum on democracy but winning it based on the votes of so few people that true democracy couldn’t be achieved.
You have an extra week to get your ballot in the mail.