Democratic government is great, but it is not always fair. Under the banner of “democratic government”, there are many variations. The common factors generally are the twin elements of a secret ballot and a universal vote to elect those who will govern us. Democracies usually pay allegiance to freedom of speech, with limitations, and the concept of one person one vote. While democracy is the best method of governance, the majority mob can become an instrument of tyranny.
The present review of the boundaries of electoral constituencies in the Province of British Columbia is indicates the tyranny of urban thinking, applied unsuccessfully to rural problems and concerns in the past, will not only continue, but become more common.
Since the creation of the province over a hundred years ago, the world, and how we live in it, has changed dramatically. The urbanization of the provincial population has created an imbalance in the political process. There are numerous examples. We have all run into of the ignorance of the urban population in relationship to the rural population. There are exceptions, but most of the population concentrated in the south-west corner of the province retains an attitude that would be instantly recognized by the old time colonialists. Get the golden egg, but starve the goose.
Instead of just fiddling with a system that was developed decades ago for a very different province, we should be looking at some new concepts. We should be trying to change to a system which would be a great deal fairer and just for all the citizens of the province.
It is time to look at a different, and radical, replacements for the out of date system that now define distribution of members of the legislative assembly on the basis of population.
While one is likely to be pilloried or flogged, for using an American example, the structure of their congress is to be admired. Recognizing that the worthy concept of one person one vote was essential to a democracy, they also recognized that population concentrations could also distort the government. In simple terms, congress is divided into three elements. The House of Representatives is elected on the basis of population for a two year term. The Senate is also elected, but each state, large or small, has two senators form each state elected for a six year term. There is also an Executive Branch but we will stay away from any mention of President Bush and company. The powers of the two branches of the United States Congress are fairly well balanced.
The structure of the Senate has allowed states such as Alaska to have a much greater influence on their destiny. It takes little imagination to visualize the problems, both current and future, that would be created if the primary decisions were made in Washington, DC.
We need to have a geographic balance in the government of our province. Perhaps we should have a look at how we can change our system of governance that will give perspective and a future to all parts of the province.
What if we divided the province into seven regions? These would be, Greater Vancouver (include Surrey), Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Southern Interior, Cariboo, Kootenay and the North, each region electing ten members. It would create balance and create political units with a common economy and perspective of the future.
The other alternative, around since my high school days, would be the forming a new province. Maybe we could include the Northern Cariboo and the Yukon. We could then keep our resource revenue and take care of ourselves very nicely.
Could we make Fort Saint James the capital of the new province?