EDITORIAL: Unjust deserts on election day

Non-voters may get the government they deserve, but those who do vote deserve much better than they get these days.

We, the voters, deserve better – from our leaders, from our candidates and from the system that purports to serve us.

We have a returning premier who failed to win her own seat last month, telling us that several of her successful MLA-elects have offered to abandon their ridings, in which they were chosen by the people, for her presumed byelection victory.

Closer to home, we have municipal representatives who, in the same provincial election, saw an opening for higher office and, once victorious, necessitate now either city byelections or underrepresentation at the civic level.

These examples merely scratch the surface of a situation so endemic, voters are abrogating their responsibilities by staying home on election day.

This is one theory on a voter turnout so consistently low, it no longer shocks.

Another theory is that would-be voters are so pleased by the calibre of candidate – and by actual voters’ choices – that they know their city/province/country is in good hands.

Taking a look at the most recent election, that scenario is difficult to accept. It’s more likely that the four major parties – yes, there were four – each failed to captivate voters’ interests and fill the campaign with educated discourse.

(That is, in ridings where all four parties actually fielded candidates. Not to diminish Surrey-Cloverdale MLA-elect Stephanie Cadieux’s laudable accomplishments as the province’s top vote-getter with 18,001 supporters, but did the BC Greens really believe she deserved a pass?)

Instead, we had three leaders battle-scarred from past and recent missteps, and a fourth marked by indecision – BC Liberal Christy Clark, New Democrat Adrian Dix, Conservative John Cummins and Green Jane Sterk, who has yet to campaign like she wants to be premier.

Of course, farthest from home, at the highest levels of political office, we have a prime minister who claims no prior knowledge of a $90,172-cheque from his then-chief of staff to his own appointed senator, the latter who used the money to try to derail a Senate audit by repaying unsanctioned home expenses and per diems that should never have been claimed.

Non-voters get what they deserve. But we, the voters – the fractious fraction who actually make our way to the ballot box – deserve so much better.

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