by Darren Schemmer
June 13, 2017
Weeks of uncertainty followed the May 9, 2017 provincial election in British Columbia. The final results were the closest on record.
In the entire province the governing Liberal party earned only 1,566 more votes than the official opposition New Democratic Party. Neither party won a majority of the 87 seats in the legislature; British Columbia will have its first minority government in 65 years with the upstart Green Party holding the balance of power.
The outcome all hinged on one riding: Courtney-Comox, held by the Liberals since 2001. The NDP candidate there was only nine votes ahead on election day, triggering an automatic judicial recount. When absentee ballots were added to the total the NDP lead increased to 189, confirming a new political reality in the province.
Far away, in 2015, the United Nations approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals (commonly called the Global Goals). They expanded on the Millennium Development Goals approved in 2000 that had succeeded in mobilizing major efforts and achieving long-elusive targets such as stopping the growth of HIV infection rates and cutting in half the number of people with incomes of less than $1 a day.
What’s new with the Global Goals is that they are for everyone, not just for developing countries. For example, all countries — including Canada — are called upon to “progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average,” to “end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls” and to “double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency” by 2030.
People decide to vote based many different factors, so it’s impossible to say definitively what tipped the scales in Courtney-Comox. But it could have been a matter of ‘thinking globally and acting locally’.
The British Columbia Council for International Cooperation has been crisscrossing the province for a year, encouraging discussion of the Global Goals and how British Columbians could achieve them. Over 2,000 organizations working toward one or more Global Goal, locally or internationally, have been mapped … including over 20 in Courtney-Comox electoral district.
This effort evolved into the BC2030 campaign encouraging BCCIC members and partners to work with provincial and municipal governments to achieve the Global Goals in our communities and abroad. The Comox Valley Global Awareness Network, a chapter member of BCCIC, was the most active during the election in seeking candidates ideas about how to reach the Global Goals locally.
BCCIC asked all four parties to answer a questionnaire about the Global Goals. The Greens and the NDP replied before election day. Then, the Comox Valley Global Awareness Network organized a panel followed by an all-candidates meeting about Global Goal #8: “Decent Work for All” (Global Goal #8). Over 100 people attended. Three other all candidates meetings were held by other community organizations. Although they did not specifically reference the Global Goals, two of them directly addressed issues found there: quality education (Goal #4) and water (Goals #4 and 14).
What we have learned from decades of international development work by civil society organizations, governments and companies is that the issues — from quality education to climate action to eliminating hunger — are all interconnected. We are all interconnected. The B.C. election may have just been an example of how true that is.