Mike Summers: Refederation would give B.C. government back to citizens

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      By Mike Summers

      As leader of the B.C. Refederation Party, I am honoured to lead the most democratic political party that I know of in all of Canada today.

      That’s why Gordon Campbell, who, feeling the heat of an angry public, struck the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. In its formation, he burdened the citizens’ assembly with the “Westminster model”. That would mean that, whatever system of electing voters was used, parliament would always have absolute control of voters and that those unruly and undependable voters could never control politicians. We are faced with this prospect today with the STV. But he announced that, while he was under no legal obligation, there was a moral one. How nice.

      As a result of years of fiddling and watering down, he gave us the sham of democracy we have today in the recall and initiative legislation we have now. Initiative is worthless. That’s why we don’t own B.C. Rail and why nobody has used initiative to try and protect B.C. Hydro. And recall is all but worthless. You have to be the most hated politician on Earth to get recalled in B.C. Though we will never know for sure, that Liberal MLA from the Parksville area may have been the closest to an actual recall. And our politicians since Harcourt have all promised to beef up the legislation but I guess democracy isn’t as important as giving themselves raises. Do you suppose it’s time for a change?

      B.C. Refederation was formed after the 2000 federal election, where it was obvious that Ottawa and central Canada were not going to share power with the outer provinces. The founders looked to the world for a model of governance that could easily be adapted to the needs of B.C. And they found Switzerland had a system where the voters controlled politicians and the political processes. And they set about making such an adaptation, which they have done in a masterful way.

      BC Refed has as its strength the core value of citizen power over politicians and the political process. We believe that the citizens as a whole are way smarter than any politician or political party. And we also believe that B.C.’s citizens are not unreasonable people. We believe that an informed public will always choose the right way to go on any issue.

      Since 2005, when five candidates ran under the original name Western Refederation Party, we have grown to 22 this time out, running under the slightly changed name B.C. Refederation Party. The name change better reflects our desire to serve B.C.

      B.C. Refederation seeks to serve, not dominate with extreme agendas like our competitors. We wish to administer, not absolutely rule.

      We had at one point some 50 people from every walk of life, race, colour, and creed trying to become registered candidates. But, as a result of economic pressures and tragic circumstances, we are settled in at 22. We have with us men and women (that the NDP have to force into constituencies because women are smart enough to know better), and we have people from all over the political spectrum who realize that B.C. politics is in need of a rework to empower the citizens once and for all. We are the only political party to offer absolute control of politicians to the people.

      We want to see every vote in the house a free vote. That means the MLA is free to represent the best interests of his/her constituents first.

      As part of our direct democracy proposal, every piece of legislation will be subject to a 100-day cooling off period during which the citizens can decide if they want to force a referendum on that legislation. That can happen up to 16 times on pre-scheduled but totally voter-optional dates. This effectively gives the voters a veto over anything the politicians do. That tool will force moderation in government.

      Ask anyone within our party about my opinions on STV and they will also tell you that those opinions are not shared by all of our candidates. That is where the strength of BC Refed lies. We do not demand that our candidates agree on everything. Our people are allowed to disagree. That is what democracy demands. Gordon Campbell and Carole James don’t want you to have such power over them. They offer accountability. But they won’t tell you what that means. It means nothing.

      We have asked that they agree to the 1-2-3 plan we have put forward. That is:

      1. Direct democracy. We would enact this in our first sitting as governing party. This gives the voters immediate control of us.

      2. We would also form an constituent assembly similar to Campbell’s citizens’ assembly. They would be empowered to a no-holds-barred creation of a written constitution. That would set out rules for all politicians within B.C. It would also entrench rights to the citizens over any politicians. Things such as personal freedoms would be guaranteed instead of only assumed as they are now. We envision guaranteed property rights that are only dreamed of now. We would see B.C. as the envy of not only the rest of Canada but also of the United States and every other free nation in the world because of this constitution.

      3. Refederation. While all of this is going on, B.C. Refed would begin to force negotiations on a variety topics of provincial interest, such as the Supreme Court, the charter of rights, criminal justice, official bilingualism, health accords, immigration, aboriginal issues, fisheries, national debt, multiculturalism, international treaties concerning B.C., tax policies, human rights commissions, employment insurance, and any other items of interest to the people of B.C.

      We would seek creative ways to better fund our vital health and educational systems. We would see an immediate end to open-pen fish farms on the B.C. coast. We would see projects to enhance the wild B.C. salmon stocks.

      We would once again kill the Campbell-James gold-plated pensions. Politicians are no more special than anyone else in B.C. Politicians are asking to serve. I want to go first.

      It’s time to change the way things are done in B.C. Merely electing politicians a new way will not do this. But we will do what the people of B.C. ask. We seek to give voters more. We need a chance to prove what we say. We could do it in one sitting as governing party. And we believe that the vote splitting this time could result in a minority government. We would ask for you to elect B.C. Refed members to carry the balance of power so that we can demand these democratic rights be granted to the citizens of B.C.

      We covet your votes on May 12.

      Mike Summers is the leader of the B.C. Refederation Party.




      Apr 28, 2009 at 11:45pm

      There seems to be no way to get the voter to pay any attention or inform himself so I would propose a Utopian system similar to the original Greek democracy where:

      Suitably qualified legislators (high school diploma, mentally fit) would be selected at random from the voters list, given a 6 month training course/apprenticeship and required to serve four years as a legislator. It would be considered National service, a great honour and almost no outs. Legislators would be given a much better salary/pension then they would otherwise be getting and would be guaranteed a job when their term is up. There would be lots of them say 8 for each constituency. Leaders would be chosen from within parliament.

      Telecommuting, teleconferencing, and regional meetings/groups would greatly reduce the legislator's need to be stuck in the capital.

      The current impossible municipal voting system where the voter has to select amongst hundreds of candidates for 20 or so representatives would be the first to switch over.

      It would likely be not much more expensive than the current mess and a lot more effective.

      SciFi writers like Arthur C Clarke and Philip K Dick have proposed the same and there was a passing reference to it in Robin Williams movie "Man of the Year"

      Just dreamin' I guess.

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