Monday, 16 May 2011

A Tight Race

First I want to give a heartfelt congratulations to Chief Bill Cranmer. I also want to congratulate Robbie Mountain for a hard fought battle that went right to the wire and the graciousness in which he accepted defeat. I was disappointed to see negative attack ads. Considering their source and the impressive commercial quality of the ads (American-style federal politics would be impressed with this work), I am concerned that we may have non-‘Namgis people that may be interfering with internal affairs. I am NOT in any way attaching these actions to Bill Cranmer, but to me this gives all the more reason to look into who did it so that we can protect the ‘Namgis Chief councillor’s integrity as our elected representative.

As a political science major, this election was very interesting to watch unfold. A question inevitably comes up, what does the result mean? First, close to half of eligible voters cast a ballot in this election, which is fantastic. It means that Bill will be able to finish on his own terms. To finish a admirable career in politics that we can all agree to differing degrees has benefitted our people. But let us think about how close it was. The results were incredibly close - 15 votes can easily be captured by two short lineups at Shoprite at 5:45... Votes that would haunt me in a world of what-ifs if I was Robbie. What if I picked up the phone and called that many more people? What if I picked up more people on voting day? What if I talked to one more group? Focused on urban voters? Etc... The results show Robbie presented a convincing alternative to the status quo. There seems to be a real yearning for change - not in our representative, but in our direction. Put another way, there are at least 184 people who agreed with Robbie Mountain’s focus on accountability in the form of increased meetings, AGMs and quick and consistent communication with members.

This election brought about another debate that I want to touch on - whether or not urban ‘Namgis should be accommodated by having voting stations in Victoria and Vancouver (and then undoubtedly Nanaimo and perhaps Campbell). In my opinion this would cost far too much for our nation to pay each time there is a councillor or Chief councillor election. It is an unfeasible idea with our small population. With our low voter turnout, would having the option to drive into a select building to vote increase numbers? I doubt it. This problem does not just exist on our reserve and with our people. Western governments around the world are struggling with this phenomenon. But the problem does need to be solved. How do we include urbanites into the mix? Voting from all segments of our population is important. For now this is the only way we are choosing to use that informs our government of where we need to go. One thing I can say without a doubt: this generation and the generations that follow us are and will be wholly intertwined by the internet. It is our primary means of communicating with each other as a people. Why then, do we not consider using secure online voting services that would deliver results at a click of a button? This would reduce the barriers of most non-interested voters out there and those who prefer the physical vote and mail-in ballots can still use it. There are services available that are cost effective and secure. Furthermore, the last time I gassed up I noticed the computer terminal took my status number into record. Can we not use similar means to register our votes for online voting? This would mean we could forget about “see through ballots” and the huge costs associated with 3-5 additional voting stations. Let us reach out to the internet generation and engage the youth that have so little vested interest in ‘Namgis politics.

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