Election year politics are all about the issues, even if the parties themselves sometimes might wish they were about values, character, achievements in and out of office, common sense, and getting voters to honestly answer one simple question: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
It's an interesting question. Firstly, it implies that people will always put their economic self-interest ahead of their conscience when heading to the polls, while simultaneously allowing political parties to take credit for every good thing that may have happened to you while they were in office.
Secondly, it's a hard question to answer this year because of the global financial meltdown taking place in the background as British Columbians get ready to vote in the May 12 provincial election. These days most people would probably say they are far worse off than they were four years ago.
Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs in recent months, and the construction boom that sustained the province in recent years is winding down. Some people have seen their homes decrease in value as the real estate bubble deflates, or their investments and retirement savings mauled by the rampaging bear that is the stock market.
Although you can't pin the economic downturn on any political party, the parties do have very different plans to grease the wheels for the recovery, and different priorities for they money we're essentially borrowing from our children and grandchildren.
Issues, as always, are lines in the sand, blood in the water. And while the economy is the big issue of the day, it won't be the only issue discussed and debated in the coming weeks and months, or the only way to differentiate between the candidates.
Pique has put together this short, alphabetical election primer to help voters get a sense of the issues at hand.
A is for Aboriginal Land Title. No province has done as much as B.C. in the past few years to negotiate treaties and land use plans with First Nations. Locally, both the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations have signed land use agreements with the province that will also form the basis of their future economic development, much of which is taking place in and around Whistler.
In early March, the province released a discussion paper on new aboriginal title and rights legislation that would entrench First Nation title and rights into provincial law. That has created a few new headaches for Lower Mainland governments, who are now being asked by a First Nations band with less than 500 members to pay consultation fees for any and all development projects on their claimed territory, encompassing more than 23 municipal governments from Squamish to Maple Ridge, and which also overlaps with other First Nations land claims.