December 15, 1999
Her Excellency, The
Subject: Peace, order and better management of collective affairs in Canada through changes in the ballot forms usually issued under sections of the Elections Act by the Chief Elections Officer usually by orders in council for Her Majesty in right of Canada.
On the 29th of May, 1996, I received correspondence from Mr. J. Roberts, the secretary of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia at that time.
I quote from that letter: "These matters fall outside the authority vested with the office of the Lieutenant Governor. In addition, I believe you will find that Her Majesty the Queen will forward your correspondence to the Governor General of Canada who, in turn will forward it to the Lieutenant Governor for whatever response is deemed appropriate. This is in keeping with long standing conventions."
I wrote again recently to bring the matter of a None-of-the-above ballot option to the British Columbia Chief Electoral Officer and the Lieutenant Governor to remind them that three years was a reasonable time to wait for a reply from your office. No mention was made of my inquiry, so I'm bringing this matter to your attention directly.
Wide concern is that the adversarial nature of the partisan parliamentary system effectively discourages intelligent good management of collective affairs, especially in view of the confusion with respect to Fiscal Environment and Land Management Issues which are currently entertained. There is no blame implied by the recommendations, which I feel called to offer. I merely point out that there exists a golden opportunity to evolve our system of representational government beyond the existing corruption, collusion, and now terribly evident political advantage taking. This is systemic in the practices of many of the political parties that I have observed in Canada over the last fourty years.
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 may 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 a randomly selected representative for their constituency.
The only requirement for candidature under the Election Act is that the person is eligible to be a voter by being registered on the Voters list. It would seem fair to the historic efforts of the political parties to serve the community, to give them a chance. This would be achieved by requiring that random selection would not take place unless there was a clear majority of votes cast in the NOTA box.
In the event the NOTA vote does not exceed the total for the other candidates then the leading 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 of a man and a woman as watchdogs would take place.
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 or parliment would logically become a non-adversarial co-operative, caretaker assembly forum.
Public debate in a non-adversarial 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.
Such a constituent assembly might very well meet in separate gender forums, that is a mens’ and womans’ circle, and then combine when the issues of public concern are close to accord.
People who trust themselves to act honorably 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 or State. 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 election.
People who vote NOTA would be committing themselves to continue to be participants in on-going democratic discussions leading to polls and referenda. Modern information technologies enable much broader Official Government Polls to be made available. Some people would keep themselves more informed knowing that they could be selected for constituent representative responsibilities, however long the odds.
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. It could very well provide a new sense of equality and an opportunity for final resolution of the issue of honourable settlement with Aboriginal peoples.
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 Canadian people are familiar with lotteries, this would not be a surprise or be unwelcome.
I would perhaps remind your Excellency that this form of random selection for non-adversarial good management was successfully practiced by the Greeks of classical times for some 300 years. Further I offer two pieces of newspaper clipping which demonstrate the wide support which exists within the legal professions for the principles which I humbly suggest would enable us to evolve the practice of Government in the Province of British Columbia and Canada.
A Caretaker Government of the sort suggested would have the option and would probably adopt a method of regular 'Internet' official polls and referenda. This would ensure public support for any substantial changes in statues, laws or legislation and so would in effect be primarily a Priorities Council.
In British Columbia:
Election Act, section
282, Plebiscite on matters of public concern,
My reading of these sections of the Election Act suggest to me that the Crown, in the body of the Lieutenant Governor, is empowered to protect the people's democratic interests. This perogative of the Lieutenant Governor is especially valuable in these times, when it appears to a majority of the general population that fundamentals of fair play in good management of public affairs is being undermined by short term Cabinet decisions. These reflect partisan advantage, rather than matters of serious practical concern.
My readings over the years of the Federal Elections Act sees a diminishing role for your Excellency. My latest research reveals only one mention. However, I feel that serious consideration of these recommendations is deserved.
Yours in the Love of Knowledge and Truth
John Allen West