Opinion

Democracy continues after elections

MLA Report, by Norm Macdonald

As someone who has lived in a part of the world where the government was not chosen democratically, I have a particular perspective on just how precious democracy is. And having seen first-hand how it is to live in a country where citizens cannot make decisions for themselves, I feel passionately that British Columbians must fight every time their opportunity to participate is diminished.

Free and fair elections are the most obvious instrument of participation in a democracy, and it is certainly the responsibility of citizens to vote, but the process between elections cannot be taken for granted. Citizens must continue to engage with their elected representatives, and they must take every opportunity to be involved.

But citizen engagement falls on deaf ears without elected representatives who understand their role as servants to the people they represent. It is not acceptable for elected representatives to behave as if their only responsibility is to get the majority of votes on election day.

Democracy does not mean handing over decision-making to a small group of individuals far away from the place where those decisions will have the greatest impact. A democratic system is based on the idea that the best decisions are made by citizens.

And my experience as both a mayor and MLA bears that out.

You told me that the HST was not the best thing the government could do to improve the economy.  You told me that private river-diversion projects (IPPs) would put the economic viability of BC Hydro at risk.

And time has proven you right. The HST has been a failure and IPPs have resulted in massive debt for BC Hydro.

Ignoring what the people of British Columbia clearly stated will have long-term negative consequences for all of us. The BC Liberals would not listen.

British Columbians are saying clearly that they want a government that respects the role of citizens in decision-making. They want a government that believes the people should have the final say.

Norm Macdonald is the MLA for the riding of Columbia River–Revelstoke.

 

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