As British Columbians inch closer to election day, it’s a question that is being asked with more and more frequency. Why bother voting when it appears as if the Liberals of Gordon Campbell are headed toward a huge majority? What difference can it possibly make to the outcome?
UNBC political science professor Boris DeWiel says it is important to vote for several reasons, not the least of which is keeping a variety of voice in the public discourse.
“We live in a pluralistic society, so people have a lot of different views,” he says. “We have a range of ideas, and democracy is intrinsically pluralistic.”
According to Mr. DeWiel, the reason to vote is “because it gives us a sense of belonging, it helps to belong to something larger than ourselves.”
As to the old saying that every vote counts, Mr. DeWiel says that’s not completely true. “In terms of influencing the outcome of the election, that’s not very likely except in the closest of elections and this doesn’t appear to be happening this time. The payoff is in being part of the process.”
Liberal hopeful Pat Bell is quite aware of the danger of apathy especially as his party is far ahead in public opinion polls. “From our perspective apathy and complacency are two enemies,” says Mr. Bell, who hopes to win Prince George North on May 16. “But we are going to be the ones under attack, so we need to stay focused on what has happened to our province in the past 10 years.”
The problems faced by New Democrat Todd Whitcombe are a little different, as he must account for his party even though he was not an MLA. “I can’t ignore that, pretend it doesn’t exist. I know I represent the NDP,” says Mr. Whitcombe, who is running in the riding that has been held by Lois Boone since 1986.