IN 10 DAYS Donald Trump will be inaugurated as president of the United States of America. To many, myself included, this is still surreal.
Five thousand kilometres away, following a successful campaign by “Brexit-ers,” Great Britain is in a protracted withdrawal from the European Union. In 2015, the Alberta election widened many eyes when Rachel Notley ended nearly 44 years of Progressive Conservative Party rule by leading the Alberta NDP from four seats to 54 seats.
Just over a year ago the Liberal Party of Canada won the federal election moving from 36 seats in Parliament to 184 seats. And only two months ago, the Yukon Liberal Party went from only one seat to forming a majority government in that province. And I can’t leave off this list the surge that nearly resulted in a Bernie Sanders victory during the Democratic presidential primaries.
Political upsets are becoming the rule rather than the exception.
In all of the Canadian examples listed above, third-ranked parties catapulted to majority government standing.
A remarkable thing has been happening: the status quo in politics is all but gone. Long established norms are being challenged and often tossed aside. Complacent, entrenched governments are being rattled by voters who are sick and tired of being taken for granted time and time again.
All politicians should heed this warning.
Politically turbulent times like these come with opportunities for positive change but also have potentially disastrous consequences if people choose to vote out of anger.
Turning my gaze towards the upcoming provincial election, I see warning signs on the horizon for the political establishment. As retiring MLA Terry Lake noted during recent interviews, winds of political change are strong and the B.C. government is certainly not immune after 15 years in power.
And these winds are blowing harder and harder and gusting throughout B.C. — through every forest, across every bay, down every valley, over every school playground and into every community.
Yet rather than reaching out and reconnecting with voters, the political establishment is insulating itself more and more. The walls of the echo chambers in which they operate are becoming ever thicker. As a result, civilized discourse crumbles and political polarization sets up like concrete.
In response to the political sea change, which even the most stubborn among politicians sense, we find ourselves bombarded with taxpayer-funded advertisements telling us how well the provincial economy is doing. But when we talk to our neighbours, a different story emerges. We hear how wages are stagnant and part time work is becoming normalized while the richest in society grow even richer. We hear about being squeezed by huge increases to ICBC rates, surges on our BC Hydro bills and hikes to most of our MSP premiums. And while the rates go through the roof, service and quality seem to be continually slipping.
So what can you do about it?
Well, as a basic first step we need a voting system that represents all perspectives. A system that doesn’t place 100 per cent of the power in the hands of a few with a narrow agenda. You can help push for a federal voting system that makes everyone’s voice count by visiting www.FairVote.ca, the organization leading the campaign to do away with our archaic voting system.
You can also get involved in the political process and demand change from within. Given the provincial election on the horizon there is no easier time to get involved. It’s as simple as picking up the phone or sending an email to the party of your choice. All are desperate for assistance from people like you.
As always, if you have any ideas about how to make our community a better place, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Donovan Cavers is a Kamloops City councillor. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.