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BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Winter, 2019

 

Here’s a moment worth celebrating

By Diane Wood President, BC FORUM

 

November 26 is a day I’ll remember. That was the due date for December coverage under the Medical Services Plan. It marks our last ever monthly payment of MSP premiums.

This was such a profoundly unfair tax – a head tax relentlessly increased for more than a decade by former Liberal governments.

There was little consideration of ability to pay. The super wealthy paid exactly the same amount as ordinary workers and retirees.

The impact of MSP premiums was so egrigious that many people with average incomes ended up paying a larger share of their income in taxes than the millionaires and billionaires.

Before the election of John Horgan’s NDP government, this unfair tax cost a family of two with modest means $1,800 a year.

The new government cut that amount in half within a few months, effective of Jan. 1, 2018, and has now eliminated the premiums entirely.

“Eliminating MSP premiums is one of the largest tax cuts for people in B.C.’s history – and one that was long overdue,” says Finance Minister Carole James.

I wholeheartedly agree. And this is a moment to celebrate the success of all the individuals and groups, including BC FORUM members, who worked so hard for so long to get rid of this regressive tax.

Now we know why he broke his word

It was such a good promise. It would have given many voters an assurance that their opinions would be heard, respected, and represented in the House of Commons.

So why did Justin Trudeau change his mind, and plunge us back into a first-past-the-post, winner take all election?

The answer is easy. He did some arithmetic, and decided that winning is more important than building a true democracy where every vote counts.

Blackface, SNC Lavelin, and so much more. He couldn’t have succeeded if voters knew they could vote for what they really wanted and have it count, rather than voting to stop the even less desirable Scheer Conservatives.

Our antiquated electoral system encourages people to vote against as much as for, and virtually guarantees that the majority of votes will be wasted.

In a three party race, for example, you can win a seat with just 34 percent of the vote. Indeed, the Liberals formed a government with just 33 percent of the popular vote.

Unfortunately, Trudeau is not alone. There are a lot of politicians who put their own interests ahead of the interests of voters. Victorious in the status quo, they oppose any change, no matter how much it is needed.

That makes it an extraordinarily tough battle, but the campaigns to demand true democracy for Canadians must continue.

Making sure that citizens are fairly represented in the House of Commons is the necessary first step to ensuring that all Canadians can move forward together in building a better future for all.

 

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