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Columns: 2011 Year Of The Voter
UPDATED 09/03/11 – COMMENTS RECEIVED – By Glen Thompson. A federal election is upon us. It will be the first of many political contests this year. Right after the federal election, HST goes to referendum June 24th; this is likely to be followed by a provincial election in the fall. Before the year ends, Municipal and School board elections will take us to the polls for the 4th time in 7 months.
Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared on Chilliwack Today, Tuesday, March 8
In Chinese astrology, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. Iâ€™m a Rabbit. I may even run. This is my year. The thing is – which election do I run in? Everything from School Trustee to Prime Minister is up for grabs. In BC, 2011 is the Year of the Voter.The federal election is likely to be sparked by the content of Stephen Harperâ€™s next budget. Toronto-Danforth MP Jack Layton is ready, despite illness, to lead the NDP into the latest Stop Harper Campaign. The Tories seem confident that Stephen Harper, member for Calgary Southwest, has outgrown his negative image as a ruthless, neo-conservative.
Perhaps minority government has softened his image, but the question is: how would he govern with a majority? Liberal seats in what the conservatives call ‘very ethnic ridings’ are being targeted in the hope that immigrant voters will lead Harper to a majority. If they win 2 Liberals from BC, Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South) and Hedi Fry (Vancouver Centre) could hold the balance of power. Easterners may have to stay up late to see what happens in the west.
Locally, Tory heavyweight Chuck Strahl, member for Chilliwack and the Fraser Canyon, is looking as confident as ever. He expects his recent sewer infrastructure announcement in Sardis to launch him into another landslide victory. He is perhaps the most charming ex-logger in BC politics. The NDPâ€™s Gwen Oâ€™Mahony promises to give Chuck a run for his money in the Fraser Canyon.
In 2009 she ran provincially for the NDP and won 19 of 21 polls in the Hope â€“ Boston Bar area. Oâ€™Mahony is just emerging as a political figure in Chilliwack and looks to be positioning herself well for the future. It remains to be seen if this race turns into a contest or if the voters will just hand Chucky another mandate.
Vander Zalm with the premierâ€™s blood still on his hands is politically powerful. Surprisingly, the HST campaign has not raised the profile of the provincial BC Conservative party whoever-they-areâ€™s. Zalm will likely have the BC Conservative leader caught and shot at dawn, upon his return.
Provincially, Christy Clark waits impatiently to quickly dispense with her partyâ€™s much touted fixed-date election act. She wants to fast forward the election to early fall, instead of the legislated date of May 2013. The act was put in place to prevent snap elections being called by a premier who wants to take advantage of a short lived rise in popularity. Christy Clarkâ€™s American style retail politics is new to BC. Her political marketing style was polished on the Christy Clark Talk Radio Show.
It highlights the use of safe, patriotic phrasing such as ‘families first’ and focuses on pop-topics such as her proposal for a new statutory holiday. The pop-topics act as a distraction from her support for controversial issues; such as Fish Lake and Health Care cuts. Will anyone notice when Christyâ€™s holiday is quietly deleted in cabinet by Randy Hawes and Kevin Falcon. She hopes that the HST dagger will be removed by the Vander Zalm referendum and the BC Liberals will somehow reconnect with voters.
The most surprising proposal coming out of the Liberal leadership race was Christy Clarkâ€™s plan to tie health care funding to GDP. In the next economic downturn can we expect the sick and the elderly to suffer for our benefit? Are her handlers incapable of recognizing bad policy? In New Westminster the Liberals closed St. Maryâ€™s hospital.
In the last election of the year, Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz should win easily. Sylvia Dyck and John Henry Harter are likely to return on either political pole for the school board. Area E may be split into two electoral areas; Chilliwack River Valley and Cultus Lake-Columbia Valley.
Dave Lamson is considering hanging it up as Area E director. I hope he reconsiders. Sasha Peters may take a run if Area E is split and pursue the Cultus Lake-Columbia Valley directorship. If he does the FVRD may want to limit the length of bylaws to 142 pages.
The Year of the Voter will be a long one.
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Glen Thompson as a regular columnists. He has been a contributor to Today as a letter writer and has commented on many issues regarding the environment and the issue of conflict grave. Glen is from Friends of The Chilliwack River Valley. For more information call 604-847-3732 or Click Here.