Democracy needs to be defended

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

“At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking in to the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper - no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point.” - Winston Churchill, House of Commons, Oct. 31, 1944 

And this little act of marking a little ballot makes a big difference. Democracy is fragile and if we don't care for it, we will be all the poorer for not having participated. 

We know that our system doesn't necessarily reflect the will or wishes of the people. In the last U.S. presidential election, Hillary Clinton received almost three million more votes than Donald Trump. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper formed a majority government with less than 40% of the popular vote. And in the last provincial election Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals received 46% of the vote and got 57% of the seats to form a majority government. 

In the U.S. electoral structure, the College of Electors provided Trump with the required number of votes to take the presidency over Clinton even though she had more votes. In the Canadian parliamentary structure, at both the federal and provincial levels, the number of candidates elected from a single political party determines which leader will form the government. 

Democracy is not perfect. But it is better than other forms of government. In many countries people protest and die for the right to vote. Oppressive dictators hold on to power through ruthless means inflicted upon their citizens. All the while, we in Canada seem to take voting for granted. In the 2013 provincial election, 3.1 million British Columbians were registered to vote and only 1.6 million or 52% of us turned out to vote. 

Too many of us spend more time thinking about the purchase of our next car or truck than we do about who to vote for. But take a look at your T4 slips and think about how much tax is deducted off your pay–taxes that pay for hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. That amount is likely to be a lot more than the F150 you might drive off the dealer’s lot! Don't you think that kind of investment in infrastructure is worth voting on when election day arrives?

We are all in this together and how you vote makes a difference in many things that are important to us as members of the BC Building Trades and our families–MSP premiums, Labour Code amendments, apprenticeship programs, environmental protection and permitting. The people we elect will make decisions on these crucial issues. If you want to have some impact, you have to get out and vote.

Every member of Parliament, every member of the legislature, and every municipal councillor should know that we vote according to our interests and we expect them to regard our interests as of paramount importance when they make regulations and pass laws.

On May 9, you will have the opportunity to cast your ballot for the candidate of your choice. It is important that you and your family members walk into those little booths, take those little pencils, and make those little crosses on the little papers. Who you vote for is your choice, but remember: Choose Wisely.

From the Editor - Tom Sigurdson

BC Building Trades

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