Editorial: We can’t afford not to hold a vote

It’s not ideal to hold a byelection, but it’s better than the alternative.

It’s not ideal to hold a byelection just a year away from the next official vote, but it’s better than the alternative.

The Citizen’s Wednesday story about the Cowichan Valley Regional District getting ready to hold a byelection to replace now-MLA Sonia Furstenau in her post as area director for Shawnigan Lake has drawn a lot of response.

Some are complaining it’s a waste of money to hold a byelection so close to when the general municipal elections will be taking place in 2018. We can sympathize with this point of view, as we doubt there’s anybody in the Cowichan Valley who doesn’t brace themselves for municipal tax time and the arrival of their tax bills. Even a bylelection isn’t cheap.

But the alternative — not electing somebody new to represent the area — is worse.

There’s an alternate director, sure, who is no doubt very competent. But that position is not elected. Nobody voted for the alternate director at any time. To just put that person in power is not democracy.

That’s if the alternate director would even want to assume the seat. The alternate director is a temporary fill-in. Agreeing to be the alternate director is an entirely different proposition than actually being in the hot seat for an entire year.

Recall how many in the Cowichan Valley felt following the firing of the entire school board in 2012, when an appointee from the provincial government was put in place rather than hold an election.

It was extremely undemocratic.

While school district operations may have run smoothly under the individual chosen, that’s hardly surprising, given that there was no dissenting voice at the table anymore.

Dictatorships are remarkably efficient. They’re just not particularly desirable for those who want a say in controlling their own destiny.

In our country we have the privilege and the responsibility of electing those who make decisions on our behalf. It’s a right we hold dear, one most of us can’t imagine living without (even though a disappointing number of people abdicate their right and responsibility by not bothering to cast a ballot, but that’s another editorial).

The mere principle of the thing is worth the cost.