Think Democracy Forum - Dec. 4
See: Think City's Dec. 4 forum presentation
With no spending limits, declining voter turnout, an election format that discriminates against minority candidates and a lack of neighbourhood accountability, Vancouver's electoral system needs reform.
But there's hope for strengthening our civic democracy by 2011 from city hall and Victoria.
BC's new task force on electoral reform is considering changes to how citizens elect their local government. Plus, Mayor Robertson campaigned last fall to make Vancouver's elections process more accountable, accessible and transparent.
Co-hosted by Think City board member Erica McCollum and Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith, Think City held a special electoral reform forum on Dec. 4. The Think Democracy forum featured expert panellists and an interactive discussion that engaged over 70 citizens.
Shoni Field was randomly selected as a member of the BC Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform in 2004. From there she went on to serve as co-chair and media spokesperson for the Citizens' Assembly Alumni, and sat on the board of Fair Voting BC from 2005 to 2009. Shoni actively campaigned for BC-STV in the 2005 and 2009 referendums. She sits on Fair Vote Canada's National Council, and on the board of the Canadian Women Voters Congress. Shoni lives in Vancouver where she works as a writer and communications consultant.
Allen Garr is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio, TV and print in Canada and abroad for the past 40 years covering everything from popular culture to urban agriculture, politics and the economy. He currently writes a column on municipal politics for the Vancouver Courier and is a member of CBC Radio's civic affairs panel. When he is not doing that, he is an urban beekeeping activist with hives at UBC, VanDusen Botanical Gardens, Science World, the roof of the new trade and convention centre and at his home in Kitsilano.
Raj Hundal was elected to the Vancouver Park Board in 2008. He is a graduate of the both the University of British Columbia and the University of Manchester's School of Law with a life-long involvement in politics.
Formerly a political aide to well-respected MP Penny Priddy, Raj is a political activist who has participated at the local level in community policing, immigrant support services and as a liaison between Vancouver's various cultural communities.
Neil Monckton is the president of Public Solutions, a public engagement firm that works with non-profit agencies, community coalitions, labour unions and municipal political parties across Canada to develop supporter cohesion through fundraising, communications and outreach online and offline. He is a co-founder of Think City.
Click here to read Neil Monckton's overview of Vancouver's democratic development since 2002.
John Whistler is one of the West End Residents' Association's (WERA) founding directors and has interests in transportation, energy, social justice and environmental issues. His activities with WERA have focused on advocating for re-orienting West End streets to favour pedestrians, cyclists, other non-motorized users and public transit.