OP/ED: Let's vote to create a solid government
Everyone is off to the polls on Monday – at least I trust you are. The challenge for our future is to land a new government in Ottawa – one that reflects your interests at the national level. Now I’m not prepared to tell you how to vote, but how can we evaluate our candidate’s based on the media hype and backbiting advertising? In our poll running this week, most voters will be either voting for the candidate locally who they like, or the party that they like. This is going to be a problem in the Boundary, as Margaret Steele pointed out at the Grand Forks all candidates meeting – the parties (other than Conservative votes) will be splitting the progressive vote and may well end up with a Conservative majority in Ottawa as a result. That’s not a problem if the majority of Canadians want the Conservatives, but what has been happening is that they are getting the most seats without the majority of votes – only 37 percent of the popular vote in fact. The example south of the border where there are only two parties to vote for doesn’t really fix the problem – it just limits voters’ choices. So how do we vote? If we try to just aim at ousting the Conservatives how do you do that? In a riding with a strong New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate (and incumbent) voting Liberal for the sake of trying to push through a majority government might not work. And voting Green could just be considered a wasted (or possibly protest) vote. So where do we turn? Well, it does come back to your views, and who aligns with them. It doesn’t really come down to party lines, because we know from past history that things promised locally often don’t materialize like promises of jobs and improved economics. Those are mostly up to business cycles at a global level not a party in a small player on the big stage. Individually, each candidate offers a different style. Alex Atamanenko, incumbent NDP, has shown his ability to stick-handle projects and funding support to the area without even being the majority party. He has demonstrated his willingness to listen to constituents and act on their behalf in collaborative ways. Shan Lavell, Liberal, is an unknown in the area. She spoke eloquently at debates offering a solid platform based on social issues – child care, affordable housing – all speaking to the many people across the region struggling with their situation as the economy slowly turns around. And she spoke from experience as a single parent who works in the health system which lends her credibility. Grand Forks did not get the chance to meet Bryan Hunt, Green, at a forum but people may have met him campaigning. The Green party platform offers to manage the budget providing cuts where people need them (income taxes) and keeping corporations on task. Again, Hunt is an unknown in our area and only a part-time resident in B.C. Lastly, Stephen Hill, Conservative, has been promoting his platform of jobs and economic success based on his personal involvement in the Midway mill revival over the last few months. While that may be a key for the small community of 600, can that be replicated? Hill believes so. But if elected to Ottawa, Hill’s attention could easily be moved to national level issues and certainly the many hours required to put financial deals together may just not be available.
In any case, if you vote party or person, please get out and vote – take a friend for fun! We need to have a voice in the voting or else we won’t be able to complain for the next five years!