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Province votes on May 17

The days are counting down to Tuesday’s provincial general election.

The days are counting down to Tuesday’s provincial general election.

A record number of British Columbians have registered to vote in the election, partly due to a campaign by Elections B.C. that allowed people to register by mail, online, or through the telephone. B.C. is the first jurisdiction in North America to allow people to register online.

With one week to go before the election, about 2.8 million people across B.C. had registered to vote. That’s more than 90 per cent of all eligible voters and 700,000 more than the last election.

In 2001, just 1,599,765 votes were cast, with just 55 per cent of all eligible voters casting ballots – a record low since 1980. About 22 per cent of eligible voters did not even register.

If you haven’t registered yet, you can still vote in the 2005 election. All advance registration is closed, but you can register at any polling location – all you need is two pieces of personal identification, including photo I.D., and something that proves your current address.

If you have any questions or concerns, Elections B.C. will be taking calls at their toll free number, 1-800-661-8683 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends.

On election day, May 17, polling stations in the Sea to Sky corridor will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In Whistler, the polling station is the Telus Whistler Conference Centre.

In the north part of West Vancouver-Garibaldi, voting is at the Pemberton Community Centre, Mount Currie Gymnasium and N’Quatqua Community Hall in D’Arcy.

Squamish polling stations include Brackendale Elementary School, Garibaldi Highlands Elementary School, Squamish Elementary School and Valleycliffe Elementary School.

Advance voting is also available from noon to 9 p.m. until Saturday, May 14 at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre and the Brennan Park Recreation Centre in Squamish.

If you’re going to be out of the electoral district on May 17 and can’t vote in advance, you will be able to vote in any other voting location around the province. A complete list of polling stations is available at http://elections.bc.ca/elections/ge2005/votingplaces_full.htm.

If you’re going to be out of the province, have a physical disability, illness or injury, or will be in a remote location, Alternative Absentee Voting is available at district electoral offices until May 17, or request a mail-in voting package. For more information visit http://elections.bc.ca/elections/ge2005/vopps.htm.

James turns to Greens, Greens turn to Liberals, Liberals turn back clock, and voters turn to federal scandal

With a week to go before the election, leaders for B.C.’s three main parties have changed their approach slightly.

Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell, on the defensive in the televised debate, has decided to go on the offensive, attacking the record of the previous NDP government and warning voters that a vote for the NDP was a vote to turn back the clock.

It was a welcome approach for Liberal supporters, but NDP leader Carole James has already used the tactic. James who is recognized for being centrist in her views, has been critical of her NDP predecessors, and pledged not to make the same mistakes by keeping the government on budget.

Meanwhile, James used a campaign appearance at Williams Lake to convince Green Party voters to vote for the NDP. She did not mention the Green Party specifically, but appealed to "progressive voters" by suggesting that the NDP is the only viable opponent to the Liberals in this election.

In the last election the Green Party picked up almost 12 per cent of the popular vote. Some of those ballots were from traditional NDP voters who were unhappy with the previous NDP government.

Meanwhile, Green Party Leader Adriane Carr used her campaign appearances to appeal to Liberal voters who were not happy with either of the last two governments.

At a meeting with the Vancouver Sun’s editorial board, Carr pointed out a recent poll that said about 13 per cent of voters were planning to back the Green Party and suggested that some of her supporters were former Liberal supporters.

All of the debate on the provincial election, however, is being overshadowed by recent events – specifically the federal Conservatives’ attempt to bring down the Liberal government in Ottawa through a vote of non-confidence, which will take place May 19. Most editorial pages are speculating on the impact of another federal election on the political landscape of the country, on bills that are stalled in Parliament, and on the proposed budget.

The federal upheaval has stolen the front page from the provincial election, and according to UBC political scientist Allan Tupper, none of the candidates is likely to do or say anything radical in the next week to win back the front page.

"It’s a very busy time politically with what’s going on federally, the likelihood of a general election call. That’s just taken the passion out of and really overwhelmed the B.C. campaign, which has not been a campaign of ideas."

Survey says…

According to the most recent poll of the registered voters, the Liberals have fallen in the polls to just 45 per cent, while the NDP are sitting at 40 per cent. The Green Party is at 12 per cent, up two per cent since the start of the campaign, but is still hopeful of sending at least one candidate to Victoria this session.

Suzuki, Mair back STV

While the David Suzuki Foundation is non-partisan, focussing on issues rather than politics, David Suzuki has entered the campaign arena to announce his support for the Single Transferable Vote system. Voters will decide whether to replace the current first past the post system with the STV system by referendum when they vote in the May 17 provincial elections.

"The STV will lead to a government with a much broader representation of perspectives," Suzuki told a crowd at a pro STV rally in Vancouver on Sunday. "It will reflect much more the diversity of the electorate.

"We’ll get much more co-operation in government and that’s the way it should go.

"There’ll be less party-driven politics. There will be no more safe seats."

Talk show host and former Socred cabinet Minister Rafe Mair also spoke in favour of STV at the Vancouver rally.

The no side believes that the STV system will lead to less representative governments, less accountability by MLAs, and to ineffective minority governments.

To pass, the STV referendum requires 60 per cent of all voters to vote yes, as well as majorities in 48 ridings.




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