We’re not the first to make note of the “perfect storm” conditions for election fatigue that have emerged in 2011.
We’re barely half way through May and we’ve already had two provincial party leadership races, a federal election, and a provincial by-election in Vancouver-Point Grey.
In the Fall we’ve got a civic election (Voice’s sphere of interest) and most likely a provincial election on top of it.
Sandwiched in between, of course, is the HST referendum in June — which means hardcore political junkies will be getting more than their fill of excitement this year.
But what impact will this tsunami of election activity have on the average voter? That’s the question many are asking.
Will voter fatigue set in and cause an unprecedented lack of interest in this year’s civic election?
Keep in mind that voter apathy (in general) is already at an all-time high, and civic elections typically post the lowest voter turnout rate.
As an example: During the last civic election, most of those elected in New Westminster were elected with less than 10 percent of the eligible vote (a sad commentary in and of itself).
And if voter fatigue sets in it could conceivably lead to candidates being elected with as little as 4 or 5 percent of the eligible vote.
Voice will certainly be doing its part to shake things up and engage voters over the coming months.
And, just as we did in the last election, Voice will be working to support community-based candidates capable of putting the interests of the community above all other interests.
The District Labour Council will, in all probability, also gear up to support their special interest slate-that-claims-not-to-be-a-slate slate of candidates, just as they’ve done practically from the beginning of time.
In fact, if the past is a guide to the present, the District Labour Council is probably screening their “labour friendly” candidates for endorsement right about now.
Insight into the District Labour Council’s screening process can be gleaned from a July 15, 2008 article posted on CUPE BC’s website.
Under the headline, “Political action committee gears up for fall elections” (with the sub-headline, “Holding candidates accountable”), the article states: “Each candidate in the local elections is asked to complete a profile of his or her position on P3s, contracting out, pay equity, and other important issues.”
Digressing for just a moment, it’s important to note that Voice has absolutely no issue with CUPE, or any other union, defining and articulating the concerns and interests of its members.
CUPE staff contribute directly to the success of our community. They deserve to have a voice, to have their concerns listened to, and to have their interests accounted for in the consensus building and decision making processes.
In fact, many will no doubt recall that it was Voice that stood up for the school district’s CUPE staff who had been exposed to asbestos when the district attempted to sweep the incident under the carpet a couple of years ago.
Perhaps the District Labour Council should ask their New Westminster school trustees about this sorry episode when they re-screen them as candidates for endorsement this year.
But getting back to the main thread of this posting: From the July 15, 2008 article noted above, it’s quite clear what happens to District Labour Council candidates who do not live up to the DLC’s special interest expectations.
As the July 15, 2008 article states: “Four elections ago, [Marcel] Marsolais stood up at a district council meeting and shot down endorsements of four incumbent school trustees who, during the previous term, had done nothing to stop services and jobs from being contracted out.”
In our view, not only is the District Labour Council’s approach to selecting and endorsing candidates too narrowly focused on a single special interest agenda, it also seems coercive and punitive in nature. Some might even say there is an element of bullying involved.
There is certainly a lot of money involved: District Labour Council endorsement typically leads to thousands of dollars in campaign funding as well as other campaign support such as a phone bank. All of these benefits are quite clearly lost to the District Labour Council’s candidates if they don’t toe the special interest line as noted above.
Voice takes a very different approach to its candidates: Whereas the District Labour Council seeks to promote a single special interest to the exclusion of all other interests and considerations, Voice seeks to achieve balance and consensus (and without coercion or bullying).
Voice looks for, and endorses, candidates who can be counted on to approach all issues with an open mind and place the community’s collective interest above any and all special interests and agendas. Put another way: Voice values sincerity over ideology.
But getting back to where we started; the question of election fatigue remains. Will it be a factor in this year’s civic elections? Will the District Labour Council candidates once again ride into office on a wave of voter apathy as they’ve done for so long now?
Let us know what you think.