(Editorial cartoon by Patrick LaMontagne)

Surrey election

BUCHOLTZ: The power of democracy is exemplified elsewhere

If democracy is resilient and powerful in Sierra Leone, it most certainly can be the same in Surrey

The shouting is almost over. The signs will be coming down.

Surrey and White Rock voters will elect new councils and a new board of education today.

It has been a unique civic campaign – there are significant changes to local elections and we are guaranteed two new mayors.

In the campaign period itself, candidates cannot raise or spend money donated by corporations or unions. Given that these two sources have been the major contributors to previous campaigns, this has restricted spending.

Another significant change is the dates. Previous elections were held on the third Saturday in November. The date was moved up one month by the former BC Liberal government. Campaigning essentially began in August – a time when almost no one pays attention to politics. Getting public attention in September and early October has been a challenge, as many are getting back into fall routines.

The issues in this election – transportation, policing and affordable housing at the top of the list – have brought more candidates. This has proved confusing for many voters.

READ ALSO: Why is voter turnout so low for municipal elections?

For those who are overwhelmed and considering not voting, remember this: voters can vote for up to eight councillors in Surrey and six in White Rock, and up to six school trustees in Surrey. Those who choose to vote for just one or two candidates still have their ballots counted.

Democracy is a precious gift. It is messy and confusing, but as Winston Churchill so eloquently put it, “it is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

I was able to see that firsthand in Sierra Leone earlier this year. We were in West Africa when a presidential runoff election took place on March 31.

OUR VIEW: Don’t be accurs’d, Surrey – get out and vote!

It was a close race. The incumbent president had tried to run again, but the constitution did not allow it.

His party nominated a well-known minister, and the main opposition party nominated a retired general who had served as the leader of the military junta at a time when Sierra Leone was in the midst of civil war, over 20 years ago.

Despite a number of attempts to disrupt the election process, it went off smoothly. More than 80 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots, even though some had to travel for hours to vote.

Results were announced four days later – at about 10 p.m. April 4, there were huge cheers on the streets of the capital city, Freetown. Opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio had won with 51.8 per cent of the vote, and was sworn into office that night. International observers pronounced the process free and fair.

The next day, all was calm and back to normal. This took place in a country that suffered grievously in a civil war that killed tens of thousands.

If democracy can be that resilient and powerful in Sierra Leone, it most certainly can be the same in Surrey and White Rock.

Frank Bucholtz writes weekly for the Now-Leader. You can e-mail him at frank.bucholtz@gmail.com.



edit@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

Surrey election

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drifting sailboat runs aground on White Rock beach

Vessel dragged anchor in high wind, no environmental damage sustained

Peace Portal Seniors Village staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Staff member currently in isolation at home, enhanced control measures in place

Legion to hold private Remembrance Day ceremony at Cloverdale Cenotaph

General public will not be allowed in Veterans Square for Nov. 11 services this year

Virtual challenge to benefit Delta-based guide dogs charity

Funds raised to help BC Alberta Guide Dogs provide people with free guide dogs, autism and PTSD service dogs

Increased border enforcement curbs cross-line parties at Peace Arch State Park

Gatherings between U.S. and Canadian citizens ‘a daily carnival’ – resident

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Mounties cleared by watchdog in fatal shooting of man with schizophrenia in Maple Ridge

Kyaw Din was killed by the RCMP during a mental health incident in August 2019

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Most Read