Only into the second week and already 1996 is shaping up to be a year of decisions and directions, for Whistler, British Columbia and perhaps for Canada. It’s a given that provincial elections and municipal elections — including the election of school trustees — will be held this calendar year. Hints this week at how soon a provincial election may be called included the launch of Employment Minister Glen Clark’s leadership campaign — "The leadership campaign is about defining the differences between the NDP and the Liberals and the Reform party." — and the notice at the local employment office for a job registering voters. Clark says he wants to emphasize three main issues in the next provincial election: job creation and protection, preservation of medicare and an attack on crime. The Liberals and Reform both want to emphasize fiscal responsibility — and what they see as the NDP’s lack of it. Inevitably, when federal or provincial governments talk about fiscal responsibility it holds consequences for municipal governments. When Whistler’s next municipal council is elected in November it will have to deal with the policies, and their financial implications, presented by a relatively new provincial government. This at about the time the cuts in federal transfer payments over the last year are just starting to be seen. For that reason alone, the issues important to Whistlerites should begin to be discussed now, so that the candidates for the next council understand the peoples’ values and goals. There will be a lot of realigning before the end of the year; new school districts, new health districts, likely the transfer of responsibility for some social programs to school or health personnel, possibly a re-organization of the workings within Whistler’s own municipal hall. The next council, the next school board and the next provincial government will all be working under new parameters. Two points to remember: 1) we have a say in who our representatives will be in each of these political bodies. 2) rather than voting for the candidate with the least objectionable campaign promises we can shape the agenda by speaking and acting now. This year will present a series of choices. Participate.