The History of the Recall in BC Provincial Politics

As we noted in POLI 1100 earlier today, the recall mechanism is one of the tools of direct democracy that citizens can use to influence the political process. A student asked whether any provincial politician (in BC) had ever been recalled. The answer is that since the passage of The Recall and Initiative Act (1996), of 24 attempts at recall, not a single one of them proved successful. (Of course, we witnessed the successful recall effort last year of the HST legislation brought in by the Campbell government.) In 23 of these efforts not enough valid signatures were collected, while in one effort the MLA–Paul Reitsma (Lib–Parskville-Qualicum)–resigned prior to the process reaching its conclusion.

Here is an overview of the recall process, from Elections BC:

Recall is a process that allows registered voters to petition for the removal of a Member of the Legislative Assembly between elections.

Any registered voter can apply to have a petition issued for the recall of their MLA (the elected Member representing their electoral district in the Legislative Assembly). A registered voter who wants to start a recall petition must obtain an application form from the Chief Electoral Officer. The completed application form must be submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer with a non-refundable processing fee of $50 and include a statement of 200 words or less of why, in the opinion of the applicant, the Member should be recalled. A Member cannot be recalled during the first 18 months after their election.

If the application is complete and meets the requirements of the Recall and Initiative Act, a petition is issued to the applicant (called a “proponent”) within seven days. The proponent then has 60 days to collect signatures from more than 40% of the voters who were registered to vote in the Member’s electoral district in the last election, and who are currently registered as voters in B.C. The proponent may be helped by volunteers when canvassing for signatures.

When all the signed petition sheets are submitted, the Chief Electoral Officer has 42 days to verify that enough eligible individuals have signed the petition. If enough valid signatures are on the petition, and the financing rules have been met by the proponent, the Member ceases to hold office and a by-election must be called within 90 days. A recalled Member can run as a candidate in the by-election.



Happy Tax Day–April 15th

Well, today is tax filing day and I’ve often wondered just where my taxes go.  I’ve often thought that given the extant technological capabilities, and the normative desire for more direct forms of democracy, that each and every taxpaying citizen should be given the opportunity not only to file her taxes electronically, but to be able to specifically allocate her tax dollars to the uses that she sees fit.  How would you choose to allocate your tax dollars?  How does the federal government choose to allocate its tax dollars?  Look at the figure below–from the Office of Management and Budget–to see what the Federal government spends its money on.  This graph goes a long way to undermining the demagoguery of politicians when talking about taxes and spending.  When a politician tells you that he is going to cut taxes and does not mention spending cuts, then he is playing politics (unless, of course, he thinks that budget deficits are a non-issue).

The fact is that discretionary spending is a small minority (18%) of total spending.  In order to put a real dent in the budget deficit and the federal debt (two different–but related–concepts), you must cut entitlements, cut defense spending, raise taxes, or a combination of the three.

Happy Tax Day!

H/T Andrew Sullivan