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Editorial, Nanaimo Daily News

30th November, 2004 : Vancouver (Internal)
A job well done

The Nanaimo Daily News, 30 November 2004

We believe it important for the people of British Columbia to recognize the valuable contribution given our province by the 160 individuals who made up the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform.

Four of those citizens were from Nanaimo and area: Linda Nicolaisen, Tanis Dagert, John Chapman and Glen Mackinnon.

On Sunday, the Assembly met for their final gathering, the group bidding farewell to new friends and colleagues. This celebration concluded 11 months of extensive meetings, debate, pulling together ideas and preparing what would be their recommendation - a proposed new voting system called single transferable vote (STV), a proportional representation system.

That recommendation will be put to voters in a referendum at the next provincial election, which takes place on May 17, 2005.

The group is expected to deliver its final report to the government, and the people of B.C., by Dec. 10, a copy of which will be sent to every household in the province.

The assembly was created by the provincial government, giving non-elected citizens a charge to evaluate our voting system and bring forward suggested changes. Jack Blaney, chair of the assembly, called this a "gift to British Columbia" and for democracy.

"No government, in any democracy, has ever given such a charge to non-elected citizens. You set new rules - the new gold standard - for the true engagement of citizens in democratic governance. And, it is now being copied in Ontario and watched around the world."

That praise to the provincial government is deserved.

So, is full praise to these citizens who have given so much of their time, weekend after weekend, and through the week many times, month after month.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with their recommendation, they have made an enormous contribution to democracy in this province, and perhaps far beyond. (People from 148 countries have logged on to the assembly's online website.)

The group started with 161 members and only one person withdrew for personal reasons. That is remarkable. At the final weekend, 159 attended, also remarkable.

The Citizens' Assembly has clearly demonstrated that individuals can come together for a common goal, and work their way through a maze of theory and come to a conclusion for the benefit of all.

A tip of the hat to each and every member. Well done!

[© Copyright 2004 Nanaimo Daily News. Reproduced here by permission of the Nanaimo Daily News.]
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