EBC file: 84100-02
John Allen West
April 1, 2000
Subject: Peace, Order and Better Management of collective Affairs in the Province of British Columbia through changes in the Forms used procedures in the upcoming General Election in BC as described under section 281(1) of the British Columbia Election Act.
Dear Mr. Petter,
My congratulations on your recent appointment as Attorney General of British Columbia.
I wish at this time to bring to your attention the "None-of-the-Above" option for the Upcoming General Election. Here is a golden opportunity to test the public's often-expressed desire for non-partisan options.
Elections BC has a non-partisan mandate and a responsibility to make appropriate improvements in the electoral process, I am seeking your support in exploring the principle of random sampling for a more representative Government by providing a None of the Above (NOTA) option on the ballot form.
Simply explained the NOTA option would appear on the ballot form with a box to check, as one would for a candidate. In this box a person could register a vote, but not for any candidates listed.
In doing so they would be made aware that they placed themselves in a lottery in which they had a very real, if remote chance of being randomly selected representative for their constituency, if a majority of votes were cast for NONE OF THE ABOVE.
In the event the NOTA vote does not exceed the total cast for the other candidates then the leading Party or Independent candidate would take the seat. It would also seem fair that if more than 30% of the poll went to the NOTA option then a random selection as watchdog would take place.
It is not my intention to destroy the political party system, whatever it's disadvantages. Rather I seek to give an opportunity for expression to disaffected voters who have gained the maturity and the ability to think for themselves and to seek co-operative rather than adversarial alternatives to those directions presented by the current partisan process.
Opinions in the press give evidence that very few British Colombians are satisfied with the management of the Province's recent affairs by the Cabinet formed by the majority party mandated in the last election. To many thoughtful people in British Columbia and Canada, the eve of the new millennium is an excellent time to carry out an experiment toward better management of collective affairs.
The credentials for candidates in British Columbia are simply that the candidate is eligible to be a voter. Therefore random selection would appear to be a simple way to choose constituency representatives. It is reasonable, of course, that professional political power-seeking people would oppose this suggestion.
Only the highest values would naturally be represented by people who themselves, by voting 'None-of-the-Above', trusted themselves to fulfill the role of local representative if they were randomly selected. That is... they would, in a profound way, take on the responsibility of providing executive authority through public discussion leading to debate of priorities in the search for People's Collective Well Being without thought or opportunity for non-public deal making.
A man and a woman selected by random process from each constituency would overcome many of the outstanding gender biased deficiencies and would provide a method of sampling wider lifestyle experiences and expressions of the diversity of the people of British Columbia.
If a simple majority of such NOTA representatives were elected then the legislature would logically become a non-adversarial, co-operative, caretaker assembly forum.
Public debate in such a forum would, by nature, be co-operative towards the common good. A recent example of this can be seen in the performance of forums assembled by The Spicer Commission.
I have written separately to the Lieutenant Governor since it appears that under section 282(1) of The Elections Act, he has some authority to influence matters of public concern which have non-partisan support.
Election Act, section 282, Plebiscite on matters of public concern:
(1) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may direct the chief electoral officer to conduct a Plebiscite to determine the opinion of the voters in all or part of British Columbia on a matter of public concern specified by the Lieutenant in Council.
(2) For the purposes of a plebiscite under subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations governing the procedure for the plebiscite.
(3) To the extent that the procedure for a plebiscite is not established under subsection (2), the plebiscite is to be conducted in accordance with the regulations of the chief electoral officer".
Section 283 of the Election Act allows the chief electoral officer to make regulations under Section (b) "prescribing forms for the purpose of this Act and information that may be included or requested on them".
Such a constituent assembly might very well meet in separate gender forums, that is a men's and woman's circle, and then combine when the issues of public concern are close to accord.
People who trust themselves to act honourably and honestly in the role of representatives, if chosen by chance, are much more likely to act in a selfless way, seeking the highest values of their communities and the wider Province. They would take on their responsibility in an open and unsullied way having rejected the adversarial partisan approach to Government by voting NOTA in the first place.
An individual selected to serve would have the option to step aside if for any reason they feel unable or incapable of carrying out their duties at the time. This voluntary quality of willingness to serve would encourage people who, although they felt unready to fill the roles themselves, would, none the less, prefer randomly selected representation as an alternative to party selected candidates. For many it would represent reaffirmation of their desire to vote and their essential trust in the common wisdom that prevails in Canadian society.
Also, I think it would be wise that youth, from the age of 12, are eventually included in this process.
Secrecy in the election process would be retained by revealing the identity of only those selected from the pool of NOTA electors for office.
In a multi-cultural society, this random selection system and regular referendum responses from the community would cut through many of the perceived and often very real ethnic and cultural biases.
In this society which claims egalitarianism as a legitimate human expression of the Divine Will, it is common for people to see themselves as children of one creative source. Any registered voter is eligible to be a candidate. Therefore random selection would be a logically consistent and an honourable way to choose constituency representatives. And in these times when many British Columbian people are familiar with lotteries, this would not be a surprise or be unwelcome.
In his role as Chief Elections Officer Mr. Patterson is quite aware of the dangerously low voter turnout. I see that the NOTA option, if properly managed, would encourage a significant public response in registration and at the polls.
It is widely understood, that if the powers of the common people through Government are not to be lost due to the financial capabilities of Competitive Corporate Capitalism, then structural changes in our democracy are vital.
Please clarify for me, if your role as Attorney General with the Lieutenant Governor in Council is to represent non-partisan interests within the commonly perceived Democratic ideals framed by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Yours in the knowledge and love of