The past 18 months have featured more than our usual amount of political upheaval here in British Columbia. And while most would say it has been a bit messy, there is much that is positive about what has taken place.
With both major political parties choosing new leaders there has been a lot of discussion about what direction our province needs to take. The contests have produced an almost uniform agreement that public policy in British Columbia must change dramatically, and through the leadership process, some very good ideas have been put forward.
We have seen a number of comprehensive ideas on how we can strengthen our democracy. Leadership candidates in the NDP have released poverty reduction plans, education initiatives and some extensive positions on environmental issues.
Candidates for leadership have spoken about taxation policy and economic strategies. There have been statements on the importance of arts and culture, rural communities and healthcare.
As British Columbians come out to meet with various candidates, important discussions about the future of the province have taken place. People are actively participating in their democracy.
Of course, the question always arises about whether or not those who promise change will actually follow through on their promises. And, in British Columbia, we have had no shortage of examples where politicians have said one thing but done another.
The most recent and well-known example would be the HST. Prior to the last election, the BC Liberals stated categorically that they would not implement the HST.
But the people of British Columbia rose up against this dishonesty. 700,000 British Columbians signed a petition demanding the cancellation of the HST. The citizens of this province essentially brought down a Premier because they felt that he had misled them.
It is a powerful message to any politician. British Columbians expect their leaders to be honest about what they intend to do, and then they expect them to do it.
Let’s hope that we have learned from the last 18 months, and that we are setting a new standard for politics in British Columbia.
Norm Macdonald is the MLA for Columbia River – Revelstoke. His website is at www.NormMacdonald.ca