Election Reflections 2020

Election Reflections

The snap election in BC has come and gone. While final results won’t be known for a few weeks, it will be an NDP government. Lessons learned?

The election brought up many issues that people felt were important and ignored issues for other people and this was frustrating for them.

I tried hard to talk to all 3 party leaders and only 1 returned my call. I sent emails and texts and tried to set up calls through candidates, so I was not very happy that there wasn’t time to speak to them or at least another member of that party. In my mind, It reflects on the lack of priority on indigenous issues. I thank Andrew Wilkinson for taking the time to chat with me.

Having so many mail-in ballots and knowing that approximately 600,000 were not part of the results on election day was hard for many who mailed in their ballots. They will still be counted in the next few weeks and they may change some results, but in some ridings the lead is so large it won’t matter. This could disillusion voters from voting in the future and a better system has to be put in place to make those votes meaningful, possibly everyone voting by mail, or not showing results of in person voting until all ballots are counted.

Also, not knowing how many people did not vote because of the pandemic remains unanswered but the number of mail ins did give them another option. I am hearing there was a record low turnout of voters and the pandemic is probably a big reason why or the fact that it was a snap election or possibly just apathy in caring who runs the province.

Due to the snap election, it was difficult for some parties to get candidates in every riding and several people voiced concern over not having a green party candidate in their riding was causing them a lot of issues of whether to vote at all or vote for some party they didn’t believe in.

Through the years and many elections, First Nations people have been fighting to get our issues out into the public for consideration as election issues. In earlier years, nothing was said of First Nations issues and did not make it into party platforms. Now, we have our issues in party platforms and this year there was actually 3 questions on First Nations issues in the all party debate as well as being brought up on issues like Old Growth and Site C. I must say that although it took 39 minutes for First Nations issues to be brought up in the leaders debate that were brought up and several questions were asked of the party leaders.

Racism and white privilege did play a small role in this election debate but there certainly not enough debate and discussion or any kind of resolve or promised action. The question to the party leaders on the debate was about themselves personally and it showed a lack of understanding of what racism and white privilege is. Sonia Fursteneau had the best answers. Racism is a huge issue in this province dealing with all people of color and has to be addressed in every sector of our lives as indigenous peoples face this every day. The question to the party leaders should have been, what will you be doing to eradicate racism in your party, government and institutions in this province?

Nathan Cullen’s remarks about Roy Jones (Haida) is typical of ongoing racist comments. While he did apologize, it is hard to accept because you know those kinds of thoughts had to be in his head before he said them. A seasoned politician making those remarks shows you how ingrained system racism is and yet people voted him in.

I think one issue that got a lot of discussion prior to the election was the issue of the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations people especially around development projects. People raised this as a concern when the BC NDP government was working on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. People were worried that this would mean First Nations had a veto over projects and could stop projects like TMX, or LNG, or Site C, or other like projects. Minister Scott Fraser, as he then was, along with Premier John Horgan were quick to say that free, prior and informed consent did not mean a veto. I have said before, consent means yes or no. Does no not mean no without going into veto? I have never had that answered and that is a question that will need to be determined under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, along with words like self-determination, Restitution and right to development.

Will indigenous peoples issues ever be front and center for an election? I live to see that day but since First Nations are not as numerous as the rest of society, and our supporters play a strong role, is it enough? How do we get the rest of the population to recognize the importance of resolving implementation of our rights, environmental protection of habitat so we can exercise our rights, impacts of climate change on our territories and resolving our right to lands and resources.

As First Nations people we will continue to advocate for our rights and continue to elevate our issues during elections and want to thank all of those who helped to raise the profile of our issues during this past election.

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