Governance Issues

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

For 150 years the Nation State has been the dominant for of government. People today can hardly imagine anything else. But for most of history a host of other forms have thrived. The Company State was both fully business and fully government. The Hudson Bay Company and East India Company were the largest. Between them they governed ten percent of the Earth’s surface and population. As governments they held the title “Honorable”. Their headquarters were next to each other in London. They shared both people and ideas. These Company States protected their interests from the Nation State. They occasionally turned their guns on the Royal Navy and had different foreign policies. The HBC government was neutral toward Russia in Alaska while Britain fought it in the Crimea. Company States were not just state-like or quasi-governmental nor “imitations” or ”extensions” of the Nation State. They should be understood as governments on their own terms. The Honorable Hudson Bay Company was the legal government in the Hudson Bay watershed and it governed Columbia to the Pacific Ocean through 21-year agreements. In proto-British Columbia it created and defended settlements, managed the economy and administered transportation, communication and legal systems. It was not a Nation State with total sovereignty over bound territory. It shared overlapping heteronomy with First Nations and it respected their legitimacy. Its economic success depended on healthy Native communities and cultures. Many Aboriginal people embraced the global economy, welcomed manufactured products and provided export goods. Some became the Home Guard around each trading community, acting as middlemen for trade and providing defence. The Hudson Bay Company state was secular Banned missionaries, encouraged mixed-race marriages and restricted European settlement. It practised harm reduction over prohibition and it managed resources to protect the environment, refusing to purchase endangered… Read More »Government in Proto-British Columbia

Government in Proto-British Columbia

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

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