Aboriginal Rights Coalition of BC


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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 drop-off information.

Should I Vote No?

Various groups 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 for?

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 Liberals.

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.

Spoil Your Ballot!

Wondering 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 ballot!

Those of you who wish to forward your ballots (spoiled or otherwise) to First Nations can drop them off at any United Church.

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 arcbc@island.net

In Vancouver... In Victoria... National Office...
ARC Vancouver
(604) 730-7143, Fax: (604) 736-9961
#205 - 2776 Pine Street
Vancouver, BC
V6J 3G2

E-mail: Abneighbours@mccbc.com
ARC Victoria
(250) 386-8272
1611 Quadra St.
Victoria, BC
V8W 2L5

E-mail: arcbc@island.net
ARC Ottawa
(613) 235-9956
153 Laurier Ave. E.
Ottawa, ON
K1N 6N8
E-mail: arc@istar.ca

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