ARC Legal Team
Tackles the Questions
This article by Murray Browne
is an entertaining and spirited analysis of each referendum questions -
and it raises a few questions of its own.
Last updated April 13, 2002: Added analysis
of referendum questions. Updated ballot
I Vote No?
suggest that the best way to protest the referendum is to vote No, thereby
ensuring that your vote will "count". But what is it counting
Perhaps voting No would be acceptable if the questions were clear, but
they're not. Take for example question 6, which proposes delegated,
municipal-style governance for First Nations. Most First Nations strongly
disagree with this proposition because governance powers for First Nations
are constitutionally derived (as they are in the Nisga'a agreement) - they
are not delegated in the way that municipal powers are. However, the
referendum does not specify that this is what you're voting for when you
vote No. The way it's presented makes No appear to mean that First Nations
governance should be even more limited that what is being proposed by the
Therefore, voting No suits the government's agenda just as well as (and
perhaps even better than) voting Yes.
But more fundamentally, these are constitutional rights: why should the
government be asking for permission to ignore them, under the pretense
that this is a "legally-binding" referendum. The government
intends to use this referendum as an excuse to ignore the constitution and
the Supreme Court, and then claim that they are doing so because they are
bound by the referendum law.
To respond to the referendum is to agree that the government has the
right to ignore the constitution. By voting No, you are agreeing that
constitutional rights and Supreme Court decisions can be overrided by
public straw polls.
Human rights are not derived from principles of democracy, they rooted in
principles of justice and fairness and equality. So that's why we're
against the referendum in principle.
whether you should participate in the referendum? Our position is to
boycott the referendum, but to make our voices heard by intentionally
spoiling our ballots. To that end, we have created an alternative ballot
with a positive message to the government to settle fair treaties with our
First Nations. Download the file, print it
out (you'll need
Adobe Acrobat), and attach it to your
Those of you who wish to forward your ballots
(spoiled or otherwise) to First Nations can drop them off at any United
Rejected questions to be counted
We called Elections BC office to confirm counting procedures for
unanswered questions. Assuming a ballot is properly cast and signed,
questions that are left blank or have a comment on them will be counted
and reported as being rejected.
(These votes will not be included in the
50% rule that determines the outcome for a given question. For example, if
for a given question there are 2 million Yes votes, 1 million No votes,
and 10 million rejected votes, the result would be considered to be Yes.)
We welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions! You can
contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org