In case you haven’t heard, a BC general election is right around the corner, and it’s begging your immediate attention.  Every election by nature is a social and political call to action – a grassroots movement that manifests the democratic process to resonate our very own rights and freedoms.  By casting our voting ballot this Tuesday, May 14th we Canadians and British Columbians will be exercising autonomy in the changing, affecting and casting of our present and future.  Understanding the true power of the people within a democratic culture is about a deep understanding of collective consciousness and the realization of individual choice and personal freedom.  The 40th British Columbia general election will welcome 85 elected members to the BC Legislative Assembly, with potential for profound political and social change depending on the election outcome.  The tightening race for provincial leadership sees two major parties battling it out in a last ditch effort to convince voters of their respective platform and as people begin parking their votes, we see NDP Party currently leading with a 43% rating in the polls, with the Liberals narrowing the gap at 37%.  So just who are the Liberals and NDP anyway and what exactly do they want from us?

If you look carefully at the two frontrunners, you will notice some distinct differences between the 2013 campaign platforms, reflecting the internal dialogue and inner philosophy of the respective parties.  At the forefront we have our current premier, Christy Clark, whose leadership vanguards the BC Liberal campaign under the slogan, “Strong Economy, Secure Tomorrow.”  A basic continuation of the administration’s current strategy, (with the main emphasis focused on debt reduction via taxes), the Liberals have been quick to take aim at the “socialist” NDP opposition, peppering the public with reminders of past NDP failings from decades ago.  If nothing else, it has made for a more exciting campaign, reminding us of Stephen Harper’s 2011 federal campaign platform that focused much of its efforts taking aim against Liberal Michael Ignatieff.  And then, out of left field, came Jack Layton and the NDP.  So what can we expect this time?  Heralding the triumvirate of Liberal catchphrases: Families First, B.C. Jobs Plan, and the professed Balanced Budget, the Liberal’s 90-page plan dangles a glowing forecast for BC’s Liquefied Natural Gas, while dedicating certain strategies in effort to reduce provincial debt and deficit spending.   Orbiting the debt reduction centrepiece are proposals, (which critics have coined as “gimmicks,”) that include a five year freeze on personal income tax, children and teacher tax credits, reduction in corporate and small business tax rates, a promise to train more doctors and increase hospice space, as well as a proposed referendum on transit funding, film incentive policies, and annual forest industry missions to Asia.  However opponents criticize the plan’s lack of content as a reservoir of fatigued ideas buffered by an inexhaustible amount of publicity photos conveying a smiling Clark amidst the blooms of spring.   However many argue that the most entertaining and perhaps revealing publicity stunt came last Friday, when the Liberals took out a full-page ad in a local newspaper, advocating the clear environmental views of Green Party Leader Jane Sterk.  This tactic in apportioning the vote, and diluting the polls, characteristically brings to mind a divide and conquer mentality, which some critics have deemed as, the Liberal’s Trojan horse.

On the other side of the court we have the New Democratic Leader, Adrian Dix, who, despite scrutiny over his past political shortcomings, has revealed a seemingly fresh platform that appears to bring energy to BC’s tired political landscape.  Focusing on the environment, women equality and child poverty, the NDP platform also advocates three consecutive deficit budgets that promise to help BC climb out of the red.  Additionally, the NDP plan guarantees reviews or audits of Community Living B.C., BC Ferries, fracking, B.C.’s liquor laws and independent power projects.  With discussions over the possible sale of BC Place and the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, (which would release the province of a debt-plagued BC Pavilion Corporation), it seems the Liberal’s bid to paint the NDP as an oppressive “socialist” force may prove to be fundamentally misleading.  However, dissimilar to the Liberals, it seems unlikely an NDP government would support the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, following recent statements made my Dix insisting the party will never support Vancouver as a major oil export port.

In brief, during the next few days proceeding Tuesday’s election, its important that we, the voters, really take the time to review exactly who these people are and what they stand for – asking the more difficult introspective questions: what do they want from us, and more importantly, what we want from them?  In dedicating time to understanding our democratic process, we in turn, dedicate time to understanding ourselves – respecting the culture and community in which we live and thrive.   Whether Liberal, NDP, Green or Conservative, the only real change comes from your hands alone.

-Elizabeth Cucnik

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