Home > BC Liberals, BC New Democrats, British Columbia Politics, Northern BC > BC Liberals, BC NDP Play Partisan Games Over Northern Representation

BC Liberals, BC NDP Play Partisan Games Over Northern Representation

November 29, 2007

The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC), in August, released a preliminary report that would take away seats from BC’s North, thus reducing Northerners’ access to effective representation. Unfortunately, instead of correcting this problem, both the BC NDP and the BC Liberals decided to play partisan games, trying to make their respective parties look good instead.

After the preliminary report was released, the BC Liberals proposed a bill to change the mandate of the EBC that would protect rural seats while adding a new more seats in the urban South. I thought this was fair: after all, they do have the population. However, I was quite surprised when the BC NDP came out agianst it, calling it “gerrymandering”. Why was it “gerrymandering”? Because it would add seats to urban areas, which they claimed would become BC Liberal seats. There are two things wrong with this: 1) Why is the BC NDP admitting that they can’t win in certain areas; and 2) Any resulting map from the proposed bill would have to be drawn up by the EBC, so unless the BC NDP has a time machine, how would they know that the added seats would be in BC Liberal areas? Heck there might have been a few in BC NDP areas.

Fast forward to voting time on this bill. The BC NDP decides to filibuster the bill, ensuring that it dies.

But the BC NDP aren’t the only ones that are responsible for the death of the bill. The BC Liberals set it up so that is was possible for the BC NDP to filibuster the bill. How? They did not close debate on the bill so that voting could commence (and a note here, they did close debate on the controversial Translink restructuring bill). Or beyond that, maybe the BC Liberals could have allocated more time to the debate and try to come up with a consensus.

Why would the BC Liberals kill this bill. Simple. So they could get stuff like this into the media, especially the Northern media. Stuff in which their MLAs could basically say that the BC NDP hates rural people.

Let’s face the truth here: Northern BC is having their right to effective representation attacked by two southern-urban based political parties playing their partisan games.

Let’s hope that the EBC will come to their senses and create a final report that is fair to rural British Columbians.  Because our representatives won’t.

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  1. Joffré
    November 30, 2007 at 4:22 am

    Why is it that when you say “fair to rural British Columbians”, you actually mean “rural voters will have more weight and representation than urban voters”? “Protecting” rural seats undermines the whole principle of democracy and all voters having an equal say. You shouldn’t forget that our legislative assemblies are meant to represent people, not acres.

  2. Northern BC Dipper
    November 30, 2007 at 4:28 am

    Yes, our legislative assemblies are supposed to represent people, not acres; however when the acres are many, it is harder to represent the people and some allowances have to be made for effective representation.

    It’s much easier to represent a seat that consists of a few city blocks and can traveled from one end to another in a matter of minutes than a seat that takes days to do the same thing.

  3. Billy Smith
    November 30, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    You’ve missed at least part of the point of the NDP’s position. It wasn’t just that the Libs were putting seats in their electable areas. It was that they were interfering with the mandate of the independent Elections BC. Ever hear of Gracie’s Finger? There’s no evidence that the Libs were necessarily tinkering with the boundaries, but heaven help us all if any political party started mucking about with Elections BC when they didn’t like what that body came up with.

    The Libs, by the way, love to wrap themselves up in this cloak of supporting rural, northern seats. If they were so concerned, why were they so late to the dance? Of the 46 Lib MLAs, only two actually appeared when Elections BC did their road show prior to releasing their report. The NDP MLAs were very well represented at those hearings.

  4. Northern BC Dipper
    November 30, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Well, If I remember the statements of the EBC after the release of the preliminary report, they stated that they did not have the legislative tools in their mandate to protect Northern seats. Therefore, it make sense to give the EBC the tools it needed, to give the EBC more clear instructions, which the proposed Bill did, albeit in a clumsy way. Maybe it would have been better if the Liberals and NDP worked together to find a mutually acceptable way to give the EBC the proper tools, but I digress.

    And let’s be honest, both of the provincial political parties like to pretend that they support the rural northern areas; I’ve seen that rhetoric from both sides. But both sides know that in the end, if they want to get elected, they have to please the urban south. And I can accept that; after all, they have the people.

  5. dirk
    December 1, 2007 at 1:19 am

    Billy Smith said…”You’ve missed at least part of the point of the NDP’s position. It wasn’t just that the Libs were putting seats in their electable areas. It was that they were interfering with the mandate of the independent Elections BC”…

    exactly

  6. Drew Adamick
    December 1, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Of course they are playing partisan games over this. Both the BC Libs and the BC NDP are chest thumping and bashing each other over this, hoping that it would give them some kind of boost in the polls by labeling each other as either not responsive to rural concerns or undemocratic gerrymanderers. This is the problem with our fucked up two-party polarized provincial system, each side accuses the other and there is no sense of actually trying to work together for the betterment of the province (except when it comes to their paychecks).

    Maybe it is time for some kind of Northern/Interior party that could win enough seats in the legislature to hold either a Liberal or and NDP government to a minority and use that position to extract more government support in terms of funds, etc. for the North (I would imagine that the chances of a “grand coalition” of the BC Libs and BC NDP to get around such a potential situation are infintesimal).

  7. Billy Smith
    December 1, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    It’s the pox on both their houses stuff I can’t abide. The opposition’s job is to oppose legislation which is untenable. The NDP doesn’t have to come up with a good position on every issue at this point — frankly, that’s a waste of time, given that the Libs never support the bills the NDP puts up. But when a bill comes up that starts us down the path towards putting elections under the direct influence of any political party, the responsible thing for an opposition to do is to oppose it.

  8. Northern BC Dipper
    December 1, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    When effective representation for a certain group is being attacked, our elected representatives have a duty to stop it and create solutions. The BC Liberals and the BC NDP have failed to do that for their own partisan purposes. I say a pox on both their houses indeed!

  1. February 15, 2008 at 12:27 pm
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