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BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Autumn 2018

Remembering the lessons of the past
as we fight for a better future

On a nice sunny day 35 years ago, John Shields and I, both vice presidents of the BCGEU, were among 1,600 members of the union targeted by the provincial government to be fired without cause.

It was an awful feeling. But giving public sector employers the unfettered right to fire anyone at all was only one small part of Premier Bill Bennett’s assault on unions, basic human rights and public services.

Labour fought back through Operation Solidarity. Civic society fought back through the Solidarity Coalition, with 65 Solidarity committees at the regional and local levels.

“It was the broadest social movement, not just the largest, but also the broadest that the province has ever known,” said Father Jim Roberts, one of the co-chairs of the Coalition.

As outlined on page 10 in this issue, those remarkable weeks and months in 1983 are being highlighted in a special Solidarity 35 project launched by the BC Labour Heritage Centre.

Three tasks ahead

I know many members of BC FORUM were active participants and will remember what we achieved, as well as areas where we fell short of our goals. I also know that we will never walk away from the continuing struggle for a more civil society, and that standing together in solidarity is the way we will succeed.

In the next little while, there are at least three areas where each and every member of BC FORUM can have a significant impact: the decades long fight for Pharmacare, local elections, and proportional representation.

Pharmacare

This may be our moment on Pharmacare – provided we keep up the pressure on the federal government and persuade it to do the right thing.

BC FORUM participated in the community consultation in Vancouver, but I encourage you to make your views known. You can complete the federal Advisory Council on Pharmacare’s questionnaire at www.letstalkhealth.ca/ pharmacare. The deadline is Sept. 28 so do it today.

Local elections

Local elections really help define the character of our communities. Civic governments make the decisions on everything from garbage collection to what development can take place on your street. School boards make decisions that affect the education of our children and grandchildren.

I urge you to help elect candidates who will put the needs of people ahead of the greed of developers and speculators.

Make every vote count

Finally, for a positive improvement in the way we govern ourselves, I urge you to vote “Yes” for proportional representation in the referendum that will be conducted by mail this fall. As the BC CCPA has pointed out (see page 11), when every vote counts, every voter counts.

With proportional representation, parties can no longer pander to their 40 percent core vote – like Trump does every day – and win 100 percent of the power of government.

Politicians would have to work together to pass legislation. Public policy would evolve with consideration and compromise, not swing wildly back and forth whenever a new government is elected.

First past the post is the antiquated darling of a privileged few. Most democracies in the world have scrapped it to make every vote count. We should do the same.

 

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