Civic Education

videos contributing to general knowledge and awareness of British Columbia and Cascadia’s past and future

British Columbia has two systems of government – parliamentary and municipal Parliamentary is rooted in law making, Municipal in law keeping. Legislative versus Judicial. These forms are used around the world but descend from the Kingdom of Wessex, of Alfred the Great who unified England. Wessex was divided into Shires governed by a Shire Reeve or Sheriff, which retains its law and order connotation. Each Shire was divided into ‘Hundreds’; an area of one hundred households. Each Hundred had a Court of property owners that met monthly. Each Hundred Court had a Reeve to implement the Court’s decisions. Two Knights of each Hundred were called by the Sheriff annually to set the ‘Farm’, or food rent, from which our word comes. As population grew and towns evolved, so did the governance model. Our municipal governments come from the Hundred Court – a Reeve with a Council of property owners. Many British Columbian Mayors were called Reeves. And the requirement for Council Members to own property only ended in 1973. The French invaded England and William the Conqueror laid siege to London, but his first legislative act granted it a Charter of Liberties in return for loyalty. Between his son King Henry First and Henry Third, they raised money and weakened Shire landowners by granting hundreds of towns Royal Charters, making them Boroughs. Borough: a town with a wall, a charter, and no feudal overlord Towns might have fences but Borough meant ‘settlement with a wall’. Borough Charters granted self government, but most importantly, access to the Royal Courts, the heavy volume leading to our Common Law. A resident of a Borough, called a Burgess, was a freeman, with no feudal overlord. Boroughs had Councillors, Aldermen and a Reeve who Kept the King’s Peace. Our city… Read More »Parliamentary and Municipal Government in British Columbia Explained

Parliamentary and Municipal Government in British Columbia Explained

Do you want to choose your own MLA or do you want a political party to choose for you? Do you want your MLA to look to you for your vote or owe their position to a political party? A referendum will decide if you’ll continue voting directly for your MLA or move towards a system where political parties make this decision for you. This referendum could shift power from voters to parties. All three proportional systems give parties a greater role in choosing MLAs; none of the fully ‘voter choice’ proportional systems will even be on the ballot. In 2004, a Citizen Assembly of 160 voters studied proportional representation. They selected a ‘voter system’ STV (Single Transferable Vote) and rejected the ‘party system’ MMP (Mixed Member Proportional). But the current process is in the hands of politicians. Their public consultation offered four possible systems, both voter choice and party choice. But the two governing caucuses submitted a joint endorsement of MMP, the system rejected by the Citizen Assembly, in which political parties choose 40% of all MLAs. When the referendum question was made public, three of the four systems were gone. The MMP system remained and two new systems were added. Neither had ever been tried nor were they part of the consultation process. Both featured MLAs chosen by political parties. How many is uncertain; details will be decided after the vote. The public consultation did not even hint of this possibility. Citizens will choose from four systems Our current system essentially holds 87 elections. The winner of each gets a seat in the assembly, usually with a stable, majority government so voters know who to hold accountable. This is the only system on the ballot where citizens vote directly for all MLAs. If… Read More »Proportional Representation

Proportional Representation

In the late 1800s, the Parliaments of British Columbia and Canada voted in racist laws against the Chinese minority. One institution that stood against them was the Canadian Senate. In the late 1800s, the Parliaments of British Columbia and Canada voted in racist laws against the Chinese minority. One institution that stood against them was the Canadian Senate. Few elected politicians at that time were willing to oppose the racist views of the white majority. When British Columbia was governed by the Honorable Hudson Bay Company, institutional racism was not tolerated. But in 1871 British Columbia became a full democracy in which the majority could make the rules for the minority. In the very first Parliament, the BC Legislature made it illegal for Chinese and native people to vote. When the Canadian Parliament passed the Chinese Head Tax the Canadian Senate revolted. Senator William Macdonald, former Hudson Bay Company man, called it ‘a diabolical Bill with not a shadow of justice or right on its side’. Senator Willliam Almon said, ‘how will we say there is a dividing line between Canada and the United States? Can we any longer point with pride to our flag and say that under that emblem all men… are equally free?’ When the legislation was sent to the Senate, Robert Haythorne said ‘it is difficult to amend a Bill based on a wrong principle, and the principle is a bad and cruel one.’ Senator James Dever contrasted Canada with the United States and said he could not understand how Canada could ‘prohibit strangers from our hospitable shore because they are a different colour and have a different language’. Senator Richard Scott said ‘it is so repugnant… one can hardly discuss it in a proper frame of mind’. The Parliaments ultimately… Read More »First Nations Architecture, Building, & Culture

First Nations Architecture, Building, & Culture

British Columbia has two systems of government – parliamentary and municipal Parliamentary is rooted in law making, Municipal in law keeping. Legislative versus Judicial. These forms are used around the world but descend from the Kingdom of Wessex, of Alfred the Great who unified England. Wessex was divided into Shires governed by a Shire Reeve or Sheriff, which retains its law and order connotation. Each Shire was divided into ‘Hundreds’; an area of one hundred households. Each Hundred had a Court of property owners that met monthly. Each Hundred Court had a Reeve to implement the Court’s decisions. Two Knights of each Hundred were called by the Sheriff annually to set the ‘Farm’, or food rent, from which our word comes. As population grew and towns evolved, so did the governance model. Our municipal governments come from the Hundred Court – a Reeve with a Council of property owners. Many British Columbian Mayors were called Reeves. And the requirement for Council Members to own property only ended in 1973. The French invaded England and William the Conqueror laid siege to London, but his first legislative act granted it a Charter of Liberties in return for loyalty. Between his son King Henry First and Henry Third, they raised money and weakened Shire landowners by granting hundreds of towns Royal Charters, making them Boroughs. Borough: a town with a wall, a charter, and no feudal overlord Towns might have fences but Borough meant ‘settlement with a wall’. Borough Charters granted self government, but most importantly, access to the Royal Courts, the heavy volume leading to our Common Law. A resident of a Borough, called a Burgess, was a freeman, with no feudal overlord. Boroughs had Councillors, Aldermen and a Reeve who Kept the King’s Peace. Our city… Read More »Roots of Government

Roots of Government