Note: this post is written about the impending election in my home province of British Columbia. Also note that I am formerly of Port Coquitlam. Finally, since this is me thinking aloud, my final position should not be assumed from only the first few paragraphs.
I have always believed that no sensible person votes for the NDP, a discredited party stuck at the cross-roads of dead 19th century socialist ideology and modern social and economic re-engineering. And yet I also feel that no sensible person should vote for the corruption, carelessness, and too-ideologically-driven morass that is the provincial Liberal party. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t “hate” Gordon Campbell on a personal level at all, and I also cannot stand the personal attacks against him coming from the NDP. But I also don’t like some of the things his party has done.
Specifically, I don’t like the way the sale of BC Rail was handled–and of course there is a corruption trial over this. I definitely don’t like the privatization of BC Hydro.
On the other hand, I cannot abide the NDP’s pie-in-the-sky approach to government, or its rigidly-controlled dictates of political correctness, particularly with regards to the Human Rights Tribunal circus show.
In this election, three things matter to me most of all: freedom and governmental competence (hence, I can’t vote NDP), and transportation.
It is there that the Liberals have disappointed me most. Their single biggest mistake–a very ill-thought-out move, I believe–was to make the replacement of the Port Mann Bridge the main plank of their transportation platform. This bridge has a lifespan of 75 years, apparently, which means there are still 30 years left. For the 3.1 billion dollars they would waste building a new bridge, the Lower Mainland could have–as a team of UBC researchers has pointed out,
For the same money . . . the government could finance a 200-kilometre light rail network that would place a modern, European-style tram within a 10-minute walk for 80 per cent of all residents in Surrey, White Rock, Langley and the Scott Road district of Delta, while providing a rail connection from Surrey to the new Evergreen line and connecting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge into the regional rail system.
In terms of transportation, I believe there are two top priorities for the Lower Mainland:
1) a Skytrain line to UBC–it’s been promised multiple times, but will it be delivered? (This is where I differ with the two UBC scholars–see the end of the article linked above.)
2) connecting all parts of the Fraser Valley to the Skytrain line
I was underwhelmed by the Evergreen Line–it’s a start, but not anywhere near enough. But to blow all this money on one bridge? The defense is “it provides jobs in a difficult economic time.” Well, so would the construction of a lattice network of light rail. This bridge is our version of Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere,” and it needs to be torpedoed promptly. This is an issue I feel so strongly about that it is almost enough by itself to deter me from voting Liberal.
The other issue I care about very much right now is crime. Here, all can be summed up in a few words. Wally Oppal doesn’t inspire my confidence, but if he doesn’t, the NDP never will. Neither party comes out ahead on the issue of crime.
I want my vote to count this election, but at this point I cannot stomach voting for either of the larger parties, or being thrown in with the Bible-thumpers in the smaller conservative parties, or the potheads in the Green Party. Spoiling one’s ballot is not the responsible thing to do, and in spite of my democratic principles, I may elect to sit this one out.
UPDATE: (After just being contacted by a local polling office): There is also a local angle to this. I prefer Diane Thorne to Dennis Marsden. I don’t have anything personal against Mr. Marsden; I assume he’s in politics for the right reasons, and I wish him all the best. It’s just that I like Ms. Thorne’s more definite and concrete positions on the Riverview lands, and BC Hydro. I sense a maturity in her, also, perhaps one that comes with experience and motherhood. Furthermore, overall, I agree with the NDP’s opposition to the Port Mann Bridge to nowhere. All this means that–for the first time in my life–I may vote for a party that is on the opposite end of the political spectrum from where I usually feel most comfortable.