2009 BC Election Carole James Electoral Reform Gordon Campbell

#bcelection #fail.

The BC Liberals led by Premier Gordon Campbell claimed a third majority government in yesterday’s provincial election, but British Columbians joined the national trend of claiming new record low voter turnouts. Voter turnout dropped from 58% in the 2005 election to 50% yesterday.

While the STV referendum was decisively defeated, two of the hand full of ridings where the STV earned majority support were Premier Campbell’s Vancouver-Point Grey riding and BC NDP leader Carole JamesVictoria-Beacon Hill riding.

2009 BC Election Carole James Deb Grey Ed Stelmach Gordon Campbell Mel Hurtig Preston Manning Ralph Klein TILMA

bc votes (on tuesday).

British Columbians will be going to the polls on Tuesday May 12 to vote in their second fixed-date provincial election and second Single Transferable Vote referendum. While I haven’t written much about the BC election on this blog, I have been following this election with interest (check out the mighty Tyee’s Hook Blog, Public Eye Online, and the Gazetteer for some of the best info).

While many Albertans may not fully understand the quirky politics of our neighbours to the west, there are number of reasons why the electoral battle between the BC Liberals, led by Premier Gordon Campbell, and the BC NDP, led by leader Carole James, should be of interest to Albertans.

Since they were elected eight years ago, Campbell’s BC Liberals have forged a close relationship with Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservatives. Starting with meetings earlier in the decade, British Columbia and Alberta are now partners in the controversial TILMA (Trade, Investment, & Labour Mobility Agreement). The two governing parties have also hosted a series of joint-cabinet meetings to highlight their close relationship (and during this campaign, Campbell wore a pair of cowboy boots gifted to him by former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein).

In their platform, the BC NDP have pledged to renegotiate TILMA, which leads me to imagine what an entertaining time the first meeting between Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and a Premier-elect Carole James would sound like…

Stelmach: So, you’re a socialist? In Alberta, we call Liberals socialists.

James: In British Columbia, you’d probably be a Liberal.

My friends in Alberta’s PC party who thought Klein was around for too long should take note of Gordon Campbell’s political longevity. Campbell has been leader of the BC Liberal Party since 1993, and in a quick estimation, this makes Campbell the second longest serving current major provincial party leader in Canada (the current longest being Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, who has led the Manitoba NDP since 1988). During his time as leader of the BC Liberals, Campbell has outlasted five BC NDP leaders.


British Columbians will also vote in their second STV referendum on May 12. Albertans including former Reform Party leader and Calgary-Southwest MP Preston Manning, former Edmonton-North Reform MP Deb Grey, and former Edmontonian Mel Hurtig have joined the broad list of prominent Canadians endorsing the change to STV in this referendum. Here’s a quick video explaining what the proposed electoral changes would mean:

Carole James Colin Hansen Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

vancouver’s 2010 winter olympic elephant.

Having spent the last week in beautiful British Columbia (well, Burnaby and Vancouver), I’ve really come to appreciate the size of the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. At times, it felt as if I couldn’t walk a block in downtown Vancouver without seeing an Olympic logo, or a display of Quatchi, Miga, and Sumi peering through a storefront window or from a billboard perch. While it’s exciting that British Colombians and Canadians are hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, I’m torn on how I feel about the games.

1) Is $6 billion for a one-time event a giant misuse of resources? The Olympics cost a lot of money, and with funding also coming from the Federal Government, it is clear that all Canadians will be paying a share of the Olympic sized-costs (including almost a billion dollars for security costs — which equals the amount of Alberta’s 2009 Budget Deficit). Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is also worried that Vancouver will be saddled with even more Olympic costs as the city struggles to deal with an increase in gang violence.

These kind of costs strengthen the argument for the creation of two permanent Olympic host cities that would host the games and infrastructure every four years (one each for the Winter and Summer games).

2) An Olympic-sized economic cocoon. There is a strong argument that the Olympic-related construction and investment in Vancouver has temporarily cocooned much of the Lower Mainland from the economic recession that has hit most of North America. Though this may be temporary, it’s hard to argue that the 2010 games aren’t providing a lot of people with jobs this year.

3) I actually enjoy the Winter Olympics. I offered some heavy criticism of the previous Olympic Games, but unlike the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, which were hosted in the free speech loving People’s Republic of China (severe sarcasm alert!), cyber-dissidents like myself have yet to be rounded up for offering criticisms of our glorious governing leaders.

4) The politics of the Vancouver Olympics are fascinating. Depending on the results of the May 12, 2009 BC Provincial election, the Premier of British Columbia in 2010 could be a cheerleader or a critic of the Games. In the spirit of partisan maneuvering, BC Liberal Finance Minister Colin Hansen has already begun to point out the nightmares that may become a reality if NDP leader Carole James becomes Premier later this year. The games will be happening no matter who is sitting behind the Premier’s desk, but it would surely be a lot less awkward if they were supportive.