What is Sensible BC working on in 2015?
Sensible BC is focusing the majority of our efforts in 2015 on the upcoming Federal Election. Since our organization began in late 2012, we have worked provincially to push for a referendum, as well as municipally to elect progressive candidates to City Councils in BC. The upcoming election is our next major effort to enact change through our grassroots organizing efforts.
Marijuana is a key issue in the upcoming federal election, which gives us a fantastic opportunity to have an impact. With the Liberals and Greens supporting legalization and the NDP pushing for decriminalization, the 2015 election helps us get the word out, and have an influence in key battleground ridings.
Why don’t we launch another referendum campaign?
We get this question a lot! There are two main reasons why we are not going pushing for a referendum in 2015:
- BC has set dates for voting on citizen’s initiatives. Even if we gathered all of the necessary signatures in 2015, we would need to wait until the fall of 2017 before British Columbians could actually go to the polls. During these two years, we would lose media exposure and momentum.
- The outcome of the federal election has the potential to alter drug policy laws at the highest level. Regardless of the outcome, if the Conservatives get back into power, or if the new government fails to take action on marijuana reform, the playing field will change.
A ballot initiative is a massive engagement exercise and takes a lot of effort. It’s important for us to push where we can have the most impact - and to be strategic with our resources and responsive to the current events outside of our control.
How are we going to have an impact on the election?
As a relatively small organization, we don’t have the capacity to activate broadly at the national level but we can have a decisive impact in key battleground ridings across BC. Canada’s first-past-the-post system has its flaws, but it also gives small, dedicated groups like ours the chance to be a deciding factor in tight races.
This year’s federal election is shaping up to be hard fought on many fronts, and BC holds many crucial swing ridings. Denying the Conservative government half a dozen seats could determine our next prime minister.
How are we determining which party to support?
We are not providing blanket endorsements to any party. We will be selecting candidates on a riding-by-riding basis using the following two criteria:
- The candidate must support marijuana reform
- The candidate and their party need to have the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate in that riding
What happens if two candidates have the same position on marijuana?
We will be using two methods to determine the strongest challenger. First, we are examining electoral results from the past decade in combination with the current polling projections for each riding.
Second, we will be working in collaboration with other non-partisan groups that are active in the election to identify whom has the best chance of winning against the Conservative candidate. We will manage any conflicts on a case-by-case basis.
Why don’t we throw all of our support behind the Liberal Party?
First off, we are a non-partisan organization, are representative of a broad base of Canadians. We support the Liberal Party policies, and are appreciative of their work in advancing the issue. However, a partisan approach will not be effective, as there are other parties that also support legalization and decriminalization. Blanket endorsements are the job of the political parties themselves.
British Columbia is a politically divided province and the next federal election is currently shaping up as a three way split between the Liberals, Conservatives, and the NDP, with 1 or 2 ridings going to the Green Party.
We can only have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election if we strategically back anti-prohibition candidates with the best chance of winning.
Are people willing to go out and vote based only on marijuana policy?
We would say ‘not usually’, but we have the lucky circumstance of marijuana policy already being a key battle identified by both the Liberals and Conservatives as an election issue. This is an important opportunity.
One of our core efforts will be increasing the number of voters for the 2015 election. Many in our movement don’t have confidence in the electoral system, and choose to opt out. The more progressive Canadians we can activate, register, and get out to vote, the stronger of an impact we can have.
Sensible BC is mainly active in BC, how will our work impact the rest of Canada?
Sensible BC is mainly focusing our on the groundwork in BC. We are home to at least 10 swing ridings, so we have our work cut out for us. Those ridings will impact who forms government.
We will also be supporting the public conversation across Canada - encouraging public dialogue, articles, and letters to the editor. We will encourage Canadians from coast to coast to coast to participate in this important debate.