For this edition, I am getting back to the basics of what this column was founded upon: farm stories. Quiet, unassuming farm stories. Simple, clear, lightly sardonic and gently ironic, with a secret ingredient of subtle messaging. The idea is to start simple, draw the reader in with entertainment, and finish off with booming messaging.
Thanks for reviewing that with me. Now let’s talk about our electoral system and how to live with it.
I grant you that there are more desirable voting systems than ours. Australia for example has a much-coveted system of proportional representation but I think it might also be mandatory to vote. Don’t quote me on that – a reminder that this is a creative non-fiction column.
Our first-past-the-post system rightly takes a lot of blame for making it possible, easy and even desirable to disengage from democracy. Very problematic for those who see issues with our governance and are relying on an electoral system change to fix the problem. Possibly you are reaching terminal despair of witnessing such. For your succour, here are 3 important clichés to guide you through the anxiety of moving on. Firstly, we should be careful what we wish for and secondly, the grass is always greener. And finally, it is rather like a carpenter blaming tools for a sloppy job. I really don’t think much more needs to be said on the topic but I am not done yet.
I think we who desperately seek representation must do more than just periodically vote when asked. There are several tools available that will result in governmental action and personal satisfaction. I have employed a few of them at the local level where I’ve won some and lost some.
What I have learned is that I can make a difference.
I am convinced that the same is possible at the provincial level. My suggested starting point is to find out what the legislators are talking about by reading the proceedings of the legislature. The word-by-word transcription of every utterance in the room is available on-line at the Government of BC website- it’s called the Hansard. I wonder why there is not a very large button to click on the main front page of the government website, however there is not. You must search for it. Regrettably diligently. It makes surprisingly interesting reading- complete with interjections, admonitions from the speaker, and inflammatory statements later withdrawn. At the very least it makes quite clear the level of obfuscation the members use to protect their positions and avoid changing them. At a more miraculous level it might be like my eyes are shedding daylight in dark corners.
So I would start there with the Hansard, you people who want to make a difference. Nothing sucks the wind out of the sails of glib party lines and smug PR campaigns like widespread public knowledge of the legislation and the debate surrounding it.
The other thing I am suggesting is that we stop haranguing one another to vote “strategically”. This most recent election has an amazing result for those who despair of a dreamy third party ever wielding power in this province. Far from being stuck in the back benches so that their voices reach the premier only as the faint babbling of a distant brook in late summer, our champions of democracy are holding the very keys to the kingdom. For at least two weeks and maybe longer, it doesn’t get any better than this. And we get this because a whack of people voted for what they wanted rather than “strategically”.
Oh yes. Farm story. We are finally planting. The ground the potatoes are going into is quite wet, but it is soil. And that’s all we need.
Anna Helmer didn’t realize that she had become expert at moving on.