EBC file: 84100-02
John Allen West
#8 Arthur's Road
RR#1, Hornby Island
BC Canada V0R 1Z0
July 14, 1999
The Lieutenant Governor
1401 Rockland Avenue
Victoria, British Columbia
V8S 1V9 Canada
Subject: Peace, Order and Good Management of Collective Affairs in the Province of British Columbia through changes in the Forms used for ballot procedures in the upcoming by-election in BC as described under section 281(1) of the British Columbia Election Act.
The Honourable Garde Gardom, Lieutenant Governor,
In 1996, I received a letter from the office of your secretary at that time, Mr. J. Michael Roberts. The letter was dated the 29th of May. This was in response to a letter which I had sent to your office earlier. I also informed you at that time that I had written to Her Majesty seeking Her guidance and perhaps support for the adoption of a change in the form of balloting by adding to the ballot form itself a None-of-the-Above (NOTA) option.
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.
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".
Once more, I feel called to formally request that the Lieutenant Governor in Council provide leadership for renewed public participation through the NOTA option in the democratic processes of Government.
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 elections list. It would seem fair to the historic efforts of the political parties to serve the community, to give them a fair 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, which exceeded the sum of the votes cast for the other Party and Independent candidates.
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 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 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 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. 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.
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.
I would perhaps remind your Honour 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.
A Caretaker Government of the sort suggested would have the option and would probably adopt a method of regular 'Internet' official polls and referenda to ensure public support for any substantial changes in statues, laws or legislation, to ensure public majority approval, and so would in effect be primarily a Priorities Council.
I was advised in the second paragraph of your secretary's letter of May 29, 1996 that I should, in due time, hear from the Queen through the Governor General of Canada and it would be forwarded to you for any response that is deemed appropriate. As you can see from the dates, it has been three years since I received that assurance of response and I still await the comments of Her Majesty or your office.
There is an upcoming by-election in South Delta which would benefit from the exercise of the Election Act, section 281(1), "The chief electoral officer may test new election procedure in a by-election, if this is agreed to by the leaders of the registered political parties entitled to be represented on the Election Advisory Committee".
My hope is that it is fair to assume that non-partisan ideals are to be represented by the Chief Electoral Officer or perhaps by yourself; which is why, once again, I am bringing this matter to your attention. It is also my hope that the NOT voting box feature could well introduce a new millennium of planetary peace and prosperity for all people.
Yours, in the knowledge and love of truth.
John Allen West