Your simple guide to the BC Election 2013 on May 14 #bcpoli

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STEP ONE: FIGURE OUT WHERE AND WHEN YOU CAN VOTE
The internet makes this deadly easy. Go to the Elections BC homepage. Find your Electoral District by plugging in your address. A nice little Google map will pop up showing you all the advance polls (these opened today!), as well as all the polls that will be open on general election day on May 14th. Pick your poison and head over to the poll (Don’t forget to bring the correct identification!).

STEP TWO: BUT OMG, HOW DO I DECIDE WHO TO VOTE FOR?!
Never fear ViA readers, Anne is here! How do you pick from a pool of people saying a bunch of stuff that sorta sounds the same? In many ways, I find it’s easier not to listen to the campaign trail spin and just read their election platform documents… but even the political nerd in me gets bored of serious policy interspersed with spin in a less-than-personal 80 page pdf document. Yeah ugh. But I did it for you! Summary of the platforms of the four largest political parties (in alphabetical order) as follows:

BC CONSERVATIVES: Unfortunately the BC Conservative platform is more “We believe…” than “We will do this…”, making it hard to make a reasonable and thoughtful assessment of their plans. So I’ll just tell you what they believe in: BC’s future, balanced budgets, fair taxes, rural BC, jobs/skills training apprenticeships, agriculture, safer communities, Northern BC, education, healthcare, transportation, equality, developing BC’s natural resources, and building communities. There are only two things they definitively say they will do: 1) repeal the carbon tax; and 2) establish their Spending Smarter plan. Spending Smarter is in three parts: allow more votes and oversight on budget estimates; create a Legislative Budget Office for independent analysis; and revamp the Fall legislative sitting to focus on reviewing and overseeing expenditures. Read their platform in full here.

BC GREEN PARTY: This was easily the most in-depth platform of the four major parties. It covers EVERYTHING and specifically lays out exactly what the Greens would like to do if elected. As suspected, quite a lot of it is framed environmentally – creating a strong economy with green principles like training people for green industries and jobs, tax benefits for going green, moving BC towards zero waste, and focusing on more green energy production and less on oil and gas. Unlike a number of the other parties, they want to increase the carbon tax, and then keep raising it incrementally to reach emission targets on schedule. The Greens focus quite a bit on eating local and supporting the local economy first. They also advocate for a number of health care reforms, and want to shift the focus to preventative care with things like taxes on junk food. They will restore arts and culture funding to 2008 levels, and a number of their aims seem to focus on establishing financial independence for arts groups, like mandating the BC Arts Council to help them partner with private sponsors. In addition, they also have sections on education reforms (including a note to permanently place LGBTQ issues in learning resources), protecting the wild, strengthening environmental laws, restoring the wild fisheries, de-criminalizing marijuana, expanding the pool of affordable housing, and making BC GMO free. Read their platform in full here.

BC LIBERALS: Economy, economy, economy. More than a third of their platform focused on their BC Jobs Plan, and in particular on their plans to export Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to China and how many jobs and opportunities this would create for the province. Also includes more mining, transit upgrades and investments in the creative sector (including the already announced funding to Emily Carr for their new campus). The rest of the platform highlighted their plans to modernize skills training, lower the small business tax rate, modernize the liquor system, provide billions to healthcare, maintain and then reduce the corporate tax rate, and establish a “Prosperity Fund” with the profits from the aforementioned LNG exports. Read their platform in full here.

BC NDP: Modernizing skills training, modernizing liquor laws – methinks there are some common sense things that will have to be dealt with no matter who forms our next government. The NDP had a much meatier section on cultural industry though, and in particular related to Film, including increasing the domestic and foreign production tax credit to make BC competitive with other provinces again. Poverty reduction is also another important part of their platform. They intend to legislate a Poverty Reduction Strategy, tie income assistance rates to inflation, and establish up to 1500 units of non-profit, co-op and rental housing for low and moderate incomes, among other plans. Their platform also includes education (support for First Nations culture, replacing the Foundation Skills Assessment test), health (increased access to mental health and addiction services, improved rural access, reduce costs), support for forestry, agriculture, fishing and mining sectors, responsible LNG export, First Nations, environmental stewardship and more. Read their platform in full here.

Of course, there are more than the four big political parties, including BC Social Credit, the Marijuana Party, the Work Less Party… check out the full list at Elections BC [PDFLink].

STEP THREE: #@$%@#% I’M STILL SO CONFUSED!
CBC to the rescue. Their handy-dandy Vote Compass will ask you a bunch of questions and then tell you where you lean on the spectrum. It won’t tell you how to vote, but it will give you an idea of what parties have opinions similar to your own, so you can focus your research a little better.

STEP FOUR: VOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTE
I already told you how to do this in Step One, but it’s time to re-iterate! Things will never change if you don’t participate. Our system certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s the one we’ve got and we need to work with it for now. So research your candidates, grab your identification, and go make an X in an O!