Two sides to election ruling

Editor:

Re: Elections aren’t theirs to change, Oct. 9 editorial.

Editor:

Re: Elections aren’t theirs to change, Oct. 9 editorial.

It would seem the editor agrees with the B.C. Court of Appeal when justices decided against the attempts by our provincial government to try to limit the money spent by “third parties” before an election campaign.

“Gag laws” the writer calls them.

There is a problem with this. It raises many questions. Why were such laws passed to begin with?

The chief complaint the editorial writer seems to have against the restriction of third-party spending before an election is that it affects the rights of “individuals, organizations and businesses.”

Now, some might consider that rich and very rich individuals should not have the chance to exert too much power over the rest of us. That’s another topic.

But organizations, aren’t they made up of individuals or citizens who already have their own rights when entering an election period? Should those individuals have an extra right? That is, should these citizens have their own individual rights, plus a right most citizens do not have; the right to express their views through an organization they happily pay to support?

And what if some of those citizens decide not to support the narrow interests of their organization as expressed by its leaders? If forced to support such an organization, as I was, is the individual then a second-class citizen? Should they have to watch their dues support something they oppose?

As a retired member of the BC Teachers’ Federation, I can assure you I have more rights in an election now than when I was forced to be a member. I can even complain to the BC Retired Teachers Association when it forgets that it represents each of its members. They know I now have the right to withdraw my support, but when I was working I didn’t.

Companies are another matter. No citizen is forced to support them, but should the individuals who run them have more rights in an election than their employees or customers?

Obviously, the justices were more concerned with big unions and big business when they made this ruling.

Who do you think launched the appeal? Who do you think financed the appeal? Who will benefit from the success of the appeal?

All of us? I think not!

Have our laws changed so unions and businesses are now considered the same as individual citizens?

Is this our new reality?

Gordon R. Scott, Surrey

• • •

The truth is that the party in power, the opposition and their major funders do have considerable power to control elections in B.C.

Both major provincial parties are nearly exclusively interested in protecting their funding sources and keeping others from the playing field – while fair process, election-finance reform and electoral reform that empowers voters are considered to be not in their interest.

As chair of the Green Party of BC until last May, and appointee to Elections BC’s election advisory committee, I have advised a succession of attorneys-general and Liberal and NDP reps to the EAC that the required deposit that is only refundable if the candidate gets 15 per cent of the vote has been declared unconstitutional in court cases brought by Ontario and PEI.

The result of the deposit-refund rule is that it cost the Green Party $20,000 for the privilege of running candidates and the major parties zero. Other parties and independents are similarly affected.

For years we have asked that the government bring in legislation to bring BC Election Law in line with the Supreme Court decision. The only option for us is to go to court to demand our rights. Why should court action be necessary to deal with such a cut-and-dried issue?

Murray Weisenberger, Surrey