11 May 2009

Citizens Assembly Alumnus Speaks from the Heart

The following presentation was by Brooke Bannister, a former member of the BC Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform, on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the BCCAER and conference on BC-STV which took place January 2009.

Hope. My dictionary defines it as "to intend with some possibility of fulfillment." It’s been written about, talked about and sung about since we inhabited this great planet.

Emily Dickenson wrote
Hope is the thing with feathers;
That perches in the soul;
And sings the tunes without the words;
And never stops at all.

Joseph Addison quipped: “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.“

And from Christopher Reeve: “Once you choose hope, anything's possible.”

So, when I think of all the things we’re trying to do at this Conference, I think it’s mainly to sell hope to the BC voter. It’s hope that from May 13, 2009 on, voters will have a more direct say in what our politicians do … before, during, and after an election.

This is why this campaign is so important. And why we must have the following focuses when tackling this job: more positive action and less negative distraction … more on the future and less about the past … more focus about how many spirits we’re going to rise as opposed to how much money we’re going to raise … more about the Citizens’ Assembly and less about the Legislative Assembly. We need more passion and less inaction … more information about Ireland and less about any other land. We need more Shoni Fields and less Bill Tieleman. In other words, more yea-sayers and less nay-sayers.

Once we do all of these positive things, democracy will prevail on May 12. Then we can promise ourselves and fellow British Columbians a future with much more than greater choice, fairer results, and better local representation. We’ll get legislatures with greater proportion and less distortion … more democracy and less hypocrisy … more optimism and less cynicism … more diversity and less perversity … and more independents and less co-dependents … government by coalition instead of constant competition … and maybe best of all, more women and less men.

When I wake up May 13, I want to feel like our democracy was given a new lease on life. This is our chance to make history … not just for British Columbia, but for all of Canada as well. (Do you have any doubt that when BC votes for a unique, new voting system, the rest of Canada will be watching and taking notes?)

The BC-STV Vote isn't just a referendum for an electoral system. This is our Barack Obama, our Nelson Mandela, our beacon of hope from a world scarred by political misuse and mistrust. Somehow we've lost respect for the process and the people in it, and I sincerely hope this is a way to get it back.

We’re not doing this for ourselves; we’re doing it for our kids and grandkids, and their kids and grandkids. Let’s make them proud. Let’s give them hope.

This, my Dear Friends, is a battle we can’t afford to lose.

The world is watching.

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