Thursday, May 14, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Election results, referendum results and the taxpayers get restless on the letters pages, part of the Wednesday offerings in the Daily News.

NDP INCUMBENT RIDES AGAIN FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS-- The re-election of NDP candidate Gary Coons as the MLA for the North coast was the featured item in Wednesday's edition as the paper outlined details of the election night results. From Coon's successful campaign to the disappointment in the Pond camp as well as the excitement for Green candidate Lisa Girbav, Tuesday night's results made for the headline, front page story in the Wednesday paper. (see full article below)

While the candidates were looking over the results of their efforts, the STV initiative was going down to a heavy defeat across the province and on the North coast. 60 percent of the voters chose the first past the post option as opposed to the STV plan, sending the project to the political graveyard for the foreseeable future. (see full story below)

On the letters to the editor page, the local tax increase was the subject of a strong condemnation from local resident Mark Rudderham, who offered up an accusatory finger at the past council and management of the city for today's required tax increases. His prime example was the handling of (or mishandling of) the Sun Wave situation by the city, outlining how it's a process that needs some closure to benefit the city and it's beleaguered taxpayers.

The City council score sheet is also included in the Wednesday paper, outlining the voting trends of the Mayor and council at the most recent council meeting on Monday night.

The Sports page turned it's attention to the Rupert Rapids success in weekend action at the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre

(Total pages in the Wednesday edition page 16)

By George T. Baker and Monica Lam-Yorski
Prince Rupert Daily News
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Pages one and three

It may not be easy to be a critic but it certainly is a successful role on the North toast.

Last night, the North Coast returned Gary Coons to his seat as the riding's MIA with a resounding victory.

During a provincial election that also returned a B.C.

Liberal government to power, it was apropos that the riding here did much of the same.

What some had called a battle of Titans, or at least two well-known political leaders, it might come as a bit of a surprise that Coons won by such a length.

Coons won with nearly 58 per cent of the vote, Herb Pond took nearly 35 per cent and Lisa Girbav placed third with nearly eight per cent.

For Coons, the lessons from his first term will certainly have an effect over how he represents during his second.

"Over the last four years I've learned a lot. I've learned the ins and outs of working with people and how we need to move forward," said Coons.

It was an election campaign that focused heavily on the economic condition of the riding, where the NDP looked to be fighting an uphill battle against a BC Liberal party that had the ringing endorsements of businessmen around the province.

Coons did not deny that jobs and the economy were factor in this election and said that the key to going forward 0 as it has been since 2004 – has been the Port of Prince Rupert’s expansion plans.

We look at the port and we all have to be onside at the federal level, the regional level and then with the port to push forward with logistic centres as necessary, said Coons.
"I believe that in this position we need to push forward Gordon Campbell and his commitments."

As for B.C. Liberal Herb Pond the night was bittersweet.

After a hard fought campaign, the former two-term mayor remained positive as it became clear that victory was out of reach.

"I think it was an extremely inclusive campaign," said Pond.
I think we brought together new people. New friendships were made. New respect was built among all sorts of people and a strong foundation was built.

"We were building on a strong foundation.

We did not start from scratch. There was a strong B.C. Liberal riding association in place. We have had successes in the past with Bill Belsey and we were building on top of them."

When asked what was next, Pond said he had no idea and that he would take his time in deciding.

"But 1 can tell you that serving the community of Prince Rupert for the last six year has

been incredible."

And if nothing else, the 2009 provincial campaign may have been a coming out of sorts for the Green Party's Lisa Girbav.

While at times publicly observed by both of her challengers as being young and involved, the 19 year-old never showed fear in competing with experienced candidates.

"I expected it to be a lot less work and really easy, but once 1 got into [the campaign] it became something that I had to commit fully to, so once I was put up to it I just gave it my all," said Girbav.

Girbav said Tuesday night's results did not dissuade her at all from continuing on.

 "If anything I am more turned on to politics," said Girbav.

But as always, to the victor went the spoils, and this term will belong to Coons whose mandate will surely include dealing with oil and gas development, port development and perhaps a return to critic-ship for BC. Ferries.

But is it easy to be a critic? "It is very difficult to be a critic, actually," said celebratory Coons.

"You get labeled as being negative, but I always felt that I was bringing forth the issues and concerns of not only Prince Rupert but all of my constituents. Being a critic isn't one of the easiest jobs around - it's probably one of the most difficult ones - and I look forward to taking on whatever chores Carole James passes on my way."

By George T. Baker
Prince Rupert Daily News
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Pages 1 and 3

North Coasters rejected the Single Transferable Vote last night by a wide margin.

In vote of 60 per cent against and 40 per cent for, the S1V died on the North Coast as well as elsewhere in the province.

It appears that locals were not impressed with the new voting system that would have increased the size of the riding while giving them more choices of candidates.

It was the second time B.G. voters shot down an attempt to reform the province's electoral system.

The question had been whether they favoured a form of proportional representation or the current first-past the-post system in a provincewide referendum.

Supporters of the single-transferable vote, known as BC-STY, had said it ensures no votes are wasted, but critics charged it reduces MLA accountability.

The issue was first put to a referendum in 2005 after a citizen's assembly on electoral reform chose STY as the system it preferred for the province.

The new voting method needed 60 per cent of the popular vote and more than 50 per cent of the votes in at least 51 of the province's ridings in order to pass.

By the time two-thirds of the polls had reported, STY had met the threshold in just 10 of the province's 85 electoral districts.

The electoral reform was on its way to a far lesser result than in 2005 when STY fell short of the required threshold by three percentage points.

"We're extremely pleased with the results," said Bill Tieleman, a political commentator and spokesman for the group No-STY.

He said people had a much better idea this time around about what voting under STY would look like - including massive ridings with multiple MLAs, stretching from the Interior to the U.S. border.

"It was no longer academic or theoretical," he said.

People were nervous about the system, which is complicated and difficult to explain. 'The single transferable voter proposal is definitely dead as of tonight. That doesn't mean electoral reform is dead in British Columbia, but certainly the STY is."

The campaign this time around was a bit higher energy than 2005, with both sides running ads on television, print and online. Advocates of the system said it would bring a more proportional style of representation.

Critics said it was too complicated a system and would actually lessen accountability for MIAs.

The call for a change to B.C.'s electoral system followed two elections which many felt proved first-past-the-post didn't represent the true will of the people.

In 2001, the New Democrats were reduced to two seats in the 79-seat provincial legislature although they garnered less than 60 per cent the popular vote. And in the 1996 election, the NDP under Glen Clark formed government although they garnered a smaller share of the popular votes than the Liberals.

Neither the Liberals or NDP commented on the system in this election, though the Greens supported it, saying it would give them a better chance at a seat in the legislature.

Under STY, the number of MLAs elected would have stayed the same - 85 - but the number of ridings would have decreased to about 20.

So the number of MIAs elected in each riding would have increased to between two and seven depending on the population of the riding or district.

Had the vote passed, B.C. would have joined handful of other places, including the Republic Ireland, Malta and Tasmania that have adopt the STV system, With a file from Canadian Press

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