Friday, March 13, 2009

Addressing the Democratic Deficit

I spoke this morning to the newly created Electoral Area A committee of Metro Vancouver on the ongoing democratic deficit and what action could be taken to deal with it.

The committee referred my presentation to staff to prepare a report. If Metro Director Harris, the Electoral Area A committee, and the GVRD act in a timely fashion we could have a real and meaningful local level government in place in a few short years.

Here's my presentation to the committee.

Summary of Presentation
My subject is the current democratic deficit in Electoral Area A and the lack of effective, local governance of this unincorporated area of Metro Vancouver.

Actions requested of the Electoral Area Committee
Short Term Actions
  1. That a proper electors list, using Elections BC’s provincial voters list, be used in all subsequent elections. Many (if not most) other local area elections use the BC Voters’ List so it should not be a problem to do so.
  2. That, as per the standard electoral regulations, each candidate or elector organization should receive an electronic copy of the voters list to ensure a fair, equitable, and honest point of access to the electorate.
  3. That notification of elections, including information on each candidate, to be distributed to each voter on the provincial voters list. In the past election more than 50% of my neighbourhood of nearly 2000 people did not receive such notification –only those of us on the BC Assessment roles received a notification.
  4. That polling stations be expanded. There are now 5855 registered voters, up 1600 since the last election and very likely to be up again by the time of the next election in 2011.
  5. That effort should be made with the Vancouver Board of Education to ensure that registered voters living in our community receive a proper notification of both School Board and Electoral Area A election materials. I appreciate that school board is outside the jurisdiction of the GVRD. However, the current system of notification for School Board elections again excludes many in this community.
  6. That in the event no change is made to local level governance that the 2011 and all subsequent ballots for Director Electoral Area A be conducted as a preferential ballot.
Long Term Actions
  • To begin an immediate process to transition to local authority and direct democracy in Electoral Area A. During the last election three of the five candidates (Ben West, Mathew Naylor, and myself) polling 60% of the total vote advocated either changing immediately to, or beginning the process of change toward, local governance. There is time between now and the next election to have an appropriate system of real democratic practice in operation for the next election.