I think it was former premier Mike Harcourt who once said that the NDP are “guests in power” in B.C. This is an accurate reflection of the political climate in the province as the right-of-centre parties usually have the media, business, and big money behind them to hold onto power indefinitely.
Below are three wishes for the new year that a future NDP government can legislate to help level the electoral landscape.
Wish number one: Lower the voting age to 15.
If youth are old enough to work and pay taxes, they should be entitled to vote. Youth are also a huge disenfranchised segment of the population that are becoming politically mobile and demanding more rights. It’s time for the elected officials to listen to them. Many youth are front and centre on many social issues whether it relates to arts, culture, sports, the environment, education, and labour and employment policies. I am willing to bet that the younger population is more likely to be progressive in their voting intentions in comparison to the older population which tends to tilt a bit conservative.
Wish number two: Make it a civic duty or compulsory to vote in B.C.
Another huge disenfranchised population is the marginalized, poor, and homeless. If it was necessary to ensure they voted, then their voices would more likely be heard in the halls of power. They would essentially become a powerful voting block that is growing in numbers during these recessionary times. The well-off and rich have no problem with voter turnout. This compulsory voting policy would essentially level the playing field between the rich and poor on both ends of the voting demographic.
Wish number three: Ensure gender equality in the B.C. legislature by cutting the number of ridings in half and electing one man and one woman from each riding.
The number of total MLAs would stay the same. Not only is this ethically the right thing to do in terms of women’s rights, it would be democratic.
There you go – three simple wishes for the new year. Hopefully, our public officials will implement these policies based on principle and not worry about populist sentiment or backlash since they all are social justice issues that need to be addressed after a long history of neglect.
Alex Sangha, Delta