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Provincial election campaigns underway

West Vancouver-Sea to Sky to choose from three candidates

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Although the campaigning started in earnest months ago, the 39th Provincial General Election officially got underway on Tuesday, April 14 with Premier Gordon Campbell dissolving the legislature. Voters go to the polls on Tuesday, May 12, which gives candidates just 28 days to reach as many voters as possible.

Campbell, as the head of the B.C. Liberal Party, is attempting to win his third consecutive term as premier. He is calling it the "most important election in a generation" due to the fragile state of the economy and the progress that he says the Liberal Party has made in the past eight years.

Carole James is once again the leader of the B.C. New Democratic Party, and Jane Sterk is representing the Green Party of B.C. There are at least two other parties fielding candidates, but only those three parties are fielding candidates in every riding.

In West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, which includes Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish, Liberal Joan McIntyre is the incumbent and running for her second term. Dr. Jim Stephenson is representing the Green Party, and Juliana Buitenhuis was confirmed as the NDP candidate last week. New candidates can step forward until the nomination period closes.

Several all candidates meetings were also confirmed this week.

Pemberton kicked off the campaign with the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce sponsoring an all-candidates meeting on Wednesday, April 15 at the Pemberton Community Centre.

The Whistler Chamber of Commerce will host an all-candidates meeting on Saturday, May 2, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Whistler Secondary School.

Events still have to be confirmed for Squamish and West Vancouver.

Elections B.C. is currently holding a drive to register voters with their current addresses, especially in the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding. Less than 65.2 per cent of eligible voters in the riding were registered or updated their information after an Elections B.C. drive, compared to a provincial average of 75.6 per cent.

The deadline for updating, registering, or confirming your details is April 21. You can register online at www.elections.bc.ca, or by calling 1-800-661-8683.

If you miss the date you may not be on the voter list and may have to wait in a line to register on May 12, or at one of the advance polling dates, before casting your vote.

Specifics have not been set for the riding, but there will be advance voting from May 6 to May 9, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The deadline for alternative absentee voting and mail-in voting is May 12.

The General Provincial Election also represents the second kick of the can for the Single Transferable Vote (STV) referendum, a proportional voting system that failed by just three percent in the 2005 election. The initiative once again needs the approval of 60 per cent of voters to be adopted.

The referendum will be on a separate ballot, and asks voters to choose between the current first-past-the-post system where the candidate with the most votes wins and the BC-STV system where voters can pick and rank more than one candidate for their riding. Ridings will be reduced in number and increased in size if STV is approved.

The BC-STV system was proposed by a citizen's assembly after the 2001 provincial election, where the Liberal Party won 77 of 79 seats with 58 per cent of the popular vote.

The Green Party has earned 12 per cent and nine per cent of the popular vote in the last two elections, but still has not won a seat.

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