By Mike Archer. As they always do, all parties are claiming this is an important election and that our future hangs in the balance.
They’re right but for reasons quite different than the ones they claim. Despite their fear mongering and dire warnings, we have managed to survive some terrible politicians before and we will be forced to survive some pretty terrible ones again.
In most elections the best results occur, not only when there is a large, involved turnout of people who have paid attention during the campaign, but when voters are determined to chose the representatives who will best serve their riding.
As the documentary ‘Whipped‘ demonstrates, the party system has failed BC and most democracies. The top-down management of modern political parties devoted to no other goal than gaining and keeping power has removed constituents from the political process.
Except during the one day every four years when we have an opportunity to have a say about who will spend our money over the next four years.
In Abbotsford South the choice is clear for those who wish to have their interests represented in Victoria. John van Dongen has demonstrated that, not only could he serve his constituents from the cabinet table within a political party or as an independent who knows his way around the halls of government but that he can continue to do so very effectively.
On the BC Rail scandal, Van Dongen has fought a lonely, quiet, costly and constant battle for years to have British Columbians finally find out what happened, who benefited and why it has all been covered up and hidden from voters.
Darryl Plecas has shown no understanding of either the issues, the process nor the concerns of the residents of Abbotsford South. In fact the only thing he has managed to demonstrate is that he wants the job. Reporting directly to whoever is left from the BC Liberals on the opposition benches Plecas would be a completely ineffective voice for the residents of Abbotsford South who have grown used to having someone represent them who can get things done.
The fact that Plecas couldn’t rely on the support of old Liberal stalwart Randy Hawes who has said Van Dongen would be the best representative for the the people of Abbotsford South tells volumes about the influence Plecas would wield within a shrunken and defeated Liberal caucus.
In Abbotsford Mission Preet Rai seems to have demonstrated that, despite being a party man, he has a better understanding of the issues of the riding, which includes both sides of the river. He has a much deeper and better involvement in the community of Mission than Simon Gibson has in either community and certainly demonstrates a stronger ability to think on his feet (or think … period).
Simon Gibson is an old style one-issue small town politician who has been feeding at the public trough since the 1980s first by promising to keeping Abbotsford a dry town and then fighting to keep abstinence and prayer as the only legal methods of helping drug addicts out of their misery.
As a result of Simon Gibson’s illegal and ultra vires anti-harm reduction bylaw Abbotsford has some of the highest HIV and Hep C rates in Canada. Besides; Simon is no friend of Mission – for most of the 30 years he has spent in municipal politics, Simon has blamed Mission for any of the bad statistics of the Abbotsford-Mission CMA.
Mike de Jong has served the residents Abbotsford West for a long time. As the second most powerful cabinet member in the Clark government he was able to get the lion’s share of the millions of taxpayer dollars to be thrown around in the riding in an effort to demonstrate how big his power really is.
No matter that his Vye Road ‘gift’ just cost Abbotsford taxpayers $8.3 million and none of the rest of his promises will need to be lived up to if, as will likely happen if he were re-elected, because he would end up sitting with less than 35 of his Liberal colleagues in a diminished role on the opposition benches.
While De Jong certainly climbed to the top of the heap within the Liberal Party, his ability to look after his constituents in a redefined legislature is questionable. Not having a working relationship with the NDP government he will be less than effective in representing Abbotsford’s interests and he will have far less power to wield on behalf of or within the riding.
His proximity to the $6 Million Basi-Virk payments, his alleged involvement in the Abbotsford YMCA controversy his questionable competence at managing the public debt and his willingness to spend millions of dollars of his friends’ and neighbours’ money during a three-week shopping spree in an apparent attempt to get re-elected, while fighting under the banner of controlling public spending all point to a representative who has served his term.
It is probably time for Mike to make way for a new voice for the citizens of Abbotsford West.
And the latest predictions show this campaign is likely to be his last. All of the old, white, mostly male power structure of Abbotsford appears set to find out that life does go on after Mike.
Moe Gill, on the other hand, has good working relationships with both parties and, like Van Dongen, has a longstanding reputation for looking after his constituents and getting things done. As opposed to Gibson, Gill has been a voice for sanity around the Abbotsford council table and would handle himself with intelligence and skill in the BC legislature as an independent.
Gill would go to Victoria without any negative baggage and with a whole lot of demonstrated skill.
Gill knows his constituency and has earned a reputation for straight talk and sensible, effective leadership. The fact that Mike de Jong overruled the democratic decision of the Abbotsford South party riding association because he preferred to have Darryl Plecas as his stooge in the riding tells you everything you need to know about both men.
One of them is independent, free thinking and effective. One of them is a party-first man, prefers to operate in the backrooms, and is prepared to go against the democratically stated desires of voters.
While Sukhi Dhami has a great deal to offer and probably has a future in party politics in BC, if elected he would be a junior party member who would not be nearly as capable as Gill at looking after Abbotsford’s interests.
We have done our best to cover this election by revealing as much about the issues and the people involved as we can and by honestly expressing our opinions and allowing you to do the same.
It’s called democracy.
While the out-of-town newspapers pretend to hide behind what they call objectivity, while somehow managing to tell the story of the power structure more effectively than any other, we prefer to tell it like it is and let you agree, disagree or tell it yourself.
Instead of pretending that every thing is equal and then focusing on one story at the expense of another, we prefer to just report what we know, express our opinions and let you do the same. Nor do we claim a monopoly on information or wisdom. We simply think everybody is entitled to participate in the process.
It just seems like a more honest and constructive way of doing things. If you disagree with anything we say please say so. We don’t bite and we only bark at those who misuse the public trust, talk down to their employers (the citizens) or use their public positions for their private benefit.
Saying and doing really dumb things and expecting no one to say anything about it is the other unsafe thing to do around us (Simon) ;
Whatever you do on Tuesday, take the time to vote. If we’re ever going to change things it is going to have to be done using that simple and most powerful of weapons – the ballot box.