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Direct democracy in British Columbia
Don Manson (author)G. Poelzer (Thesis advisor)University of Northern British Columbia (Degree granting institution)
Master of Arts (MA)
Number of pages in document: 81
Canadian advocates of more frequent use of the instruments of direct democracy express the opinion that the adoption of these instruments would help to democratise Canada's system of governance. What is really being advocated is a major modification of Canada's parliamentary representative governance system without much consideration being given to the potential ramifications of these modifications. An examination of the past uses of direct democracy will provide a clear understanding of how direct democracy has been used within the present governance system. It will then be possible to draw conclusions as to the potential uses of direct democracy, and the potential ramifications of its uses, within the present governance system. Politicians in British Columbia have used referenda, one of the instruments of direct democracy, more than any other province in Canada. The record shows that unpopular politicians or unpopular policy has been the impetus for most of the use of referenda. This examination will concentrate on three uses of referenda in British Columbia. There will also be an examination of why, with the exception of legislative measures passed in 1919, British Columbia's politicians have shied away from entrenching any of the instruments of direct democracy. Governments have instead chosen to use referenda in an episodic fashion for their own political purposes. This appeared to have changed with the passage of the Referenda Act in 1990 and the Initiative and Recall Act in 1994. The possibility that such measures would seriously undermine British Columbia's system of cabinet government is a remote one. The legislation is so hedged with conditions and high thresholds that, with the exception of formal constitutional changes. The one exception relates to proposed changes in the formal constitution.
Democracy -- British Columbia.Referendum -- British Columbia.British Columbia -- Politics and government.