Three of five BC Liberal leader candidates enlisted several interesting ideas in last few days. Mike De Jong proposes lowering of voting age on provincial elections, Kevin Falcons wants to discuss carbon taxes, De Jon’s voting proposal, and extended hours for TransLink services on Friday and Saturday nights. Christy Clark as it was expected wants to force quick elections in 2011 instead of scheduled elections in 2013.
Voting at 16 years of age
Mike De Jong’s stand is if BC lowers voting age from 18 to 16 that will boost youngsters engagement in voting and political processes and it will boost percentage of BC citizens who will vote on next elections. Kevin Falcon on the other side supports De Jong’s idea but he wants to engage educators in whole process. Support also comes from youngest ever elected BC official, Kevin Craig, who was elected as Kelowna Councillor at age of 19.
De Jong’s proposal should be discussed in the future but I don’t think it is so important to be major issue in leadership campaign just because this idea will probably get certain percentage of support if it’s prepared on a right way and in proper procedures. Recently only a half of the eligible population in BC cast a ballot on elections what shows low interest for politics and engagement in election processes which are deciding our future. Recent counts of BC students from age 14-17 shows that if we accept De Jong’s idea will give a chance to approximate population of 200.000 youngsters to vote on provincial elections what could have a great impact on election results.
Proper education will help province and country to produce new generation of politically engaged generations, to educate young people in all areas of democratic processes in Canada, it will ensure that BC political scene will have new voices who will be able to clear toxic fumes step-by-step and reform provincial politics through the years. Also if we include there social-media aspect potential young voters will be able to engage even more and to start wider discussion among the friends about political impact on their lives and to openly say what is the most important for them in future. That input will be great feed to the politicians and it will ease their efforts to exchange situation in the province.
“The potential pay-off for this, if it’s part of a comprehensive effort to engage people more in the political process, could be larger than some of the risks associated with it”, said Kevin Craig.
“We have to be thoughtful about that process before we go further and consider any kind of future increases”, said Kevin Falcon on carbon tax last week.
Falcon’s stands that BC must to be thoughtful on carbon tax because it is only territory in the North America which has this sort of tax and competitive role of BC on North American markets must to be looked in sight of this tax. He also said that he was mindful about this tax because some areas in rural and northern BC are not satisfied with it. In my opinion Falcon’s mindfulness about carbon tax comes as part of his “854” agenda which is set to bring province together and to satisfy all sides, and to unify BC on the path for better future.
“What we have to do is make sure we have policies that support, reinforce and encourage the kind of economic activity taking place (in both regions) which underwrites so much of the social programs we rely on, and I think people in the north understandably sometimes feel like they are not appreciated in the way they should be”, says Falcon.
On the other side bus drives, bars and restaurants are pushing for larger provincial funding towards TransLink in effort to ensure longer working hours on Friday and Saturday nights. This idea is coming out in a first months of tougher BC enforcement against drinking and driving, huge revenue loses for bars and restaurants and customer unwillingness to spend more money in effort to save themselves from draconian fines from RCMP and province.
"We want to get drunk drivers off the road but how do you do that without hurting restaurants and bars if customers have no alternatives except to either stay home or drink and drive? More Night Bus service and longer SkyTrain hours — especially on the weekend — would really help everyone", said CAW 111 President Don MacLeod in his statement to the media.
In his statement to the media Kevin Falcon express his willingness to work with TransLink in the future in effort to found the best way to resolve this problem on Friday and Saturday nights. Falcon also added that if province and politics are pushing young people to make responsible decisions they must take a part of responsibility for those decision and help them.
Snap elections in 2011
Snap elections in BC are on the table for a long time now, and many commentators saw them as a part of possible distance mission in post-Campbell era. Four out of five candidates are against snap elections in 2011, and they are ready to work with current caucus until 2013 and scheduled elections. Only outsider in this race Christy Clark described possible two and a half years of mandate as a premier before new elections as “awful long” adding that BC voters should have a chance to exercise their democratic rights under new leadership.
Clark’s call for new elections is partly understandable because she’s the only leadership candidate who’s not incumbent MLA and she’ll need to fight for constituency and that would be easier to reach as newly elected leader. On the other side some commentators close to the NDP and usual Liberal critics are looking in opposite direction, BC Rail case controversy. Their opinion is that Christy Clark wants to start new election campaign to save herself and her family members from mounting pressure connected to BC Rail story through the talk about NDP and BC Liberal opponents.
I”m not sure that she’s doing that because of BC Rail story but that she wants to start new era in BC politics with early elections and drive province in different direction than it was under Gordon Campbell’s leadership in last decade or so. In favour of her idea for snap elections goes her huge popularity among BC public, and as experienced politician-radio host she knows that if you want to do something you need to do that when your popularity in on the highest.