Saving our democracy one vote at a time

Voting, does it really matter in the end? Whether you are jaded by politics in general or just don’t care enough, I’m here to tell you your vote matters, and it matters now more than ever before because so much is at stake. For starters, this planet where you live.

Forty-three per cent of Delta’s citizens voted for our city government which is better than the provincial average of only 36 per cent. I don’t understand why city elections draw fewer voters than provincial elections considering local elections affect us more directly than the actions of our senior governments.

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For those who stepped up to run in Delta’s race, I applaud everyone who tried and congratulate all who were successful, including our new mayor, George Harvie. It’s no secret my vote went to Jim Cessford, but I’m not bitter. Harvie won and Cessford gave him a good race. I look forward to engaging Harvie and our new council on a few matters.

Here’s my list so far: to have an open mind about the bridge/tunnel issue after the report is released, to seriously address river dredging and raising of the dikes, and to lobby for the return of the 601 bus for seniors and commuters.

As for my favourite issue - Paterson Park and affordable housing – I’d like to see visioning workshops where the community can have real input into this unique parcel of available city-owned land.

I also believe charging “outsiders” more for using our recreation facilities is confrontational and unnecessary because we all cross municipal boundaries to access services and events not available here. It’s time to be open and friendly so other cities will want to work with us.

Moving right along to our next test in saving democracy, proportional representation doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue whereas first-past-the-post is plain English, plus it’s a system we already know. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. Sorry folks, but it is broken and we have a small window of opportunity to fix it.

The “No” side is ramping up the fear-mongering, saying it will allow extremists to take over, when actually the opposite is true. Two examples: Doug Ford in Ontario and Donald Trump in the U.S.

Over 90 countries use a proportional voting system, including over 80 per cent of developed countries such as Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark. Oddly, Canada, the U.S. and parts of the UK are the main outliers still using first-past-the-post.

A PR system enables better decision making. Rather than each government reversing the policies of the previous government, there is more collaboration and continuity, resulting in more progress on long-term issues. Research also shows that countries with PR are more innovative.

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”              ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

I hope you will give PR a chance. If you don’t like it after two election cycles, you’ll be able to vote on it again. As FDR said, the main thing is to do some homework. If you don’t know enough to answer the second question on the ballot, just answer the first.

You can learn more at the Fair Vote Canada/BC website or on Thursday's televised debate between NDP Premier John Horgan and Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson.

ML Burke retired from the health sector to work on issues such as affordable housing. She sits on the Delta Seniors Planning Team and the B.C. Seniors Advocate’s Advisory Council.

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