January 18, 2016

Dear Division 16,

You’ve probably noticed the election signs up again in the neighbourhood around the school.  In Vancouver-East, as well as Coquitlam Burke-Mountain (next to where our guest, Fin Donnelly works), a by-election has been called.  This happens when the elected representative leaves their post between elections.  Jenny Kwan, as many of you will remember, was elected as MLA in Vancouver East in 2013 and left in July 2015 to run (successfully) for the position of MP for that same riding in 2015.  The riding of Vancouver-East has been vacant since then.

The Premier has the responsibility to call a by-election, where residents in the riding can elect a new candidate until the next general election.  The by-election must be called within 6 months of the representative having left.  Please read both of these short articles, then answer ONE of the questions below:



Here is the Elections Canada website about by-elections: http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/local-elections-campaign-financing/by-elections/

1. The experience of running in a by-election is probably different for a candidate than for one running in a province wide or nation wide election. Describe at least one way that experience might be different for a candidate. Be specific!

2. Both Vancouver East and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain have been without an MLA for 5-6 months. Describe at least one effect this could have on a community.

I look forward to your responses,



  1. Amythest

    2. I think that it really is a problem that they don’t have an MLA because since they are a part of a lot of things like debates, committees and more it is definitely important to have an MLA for the area where you live. So the affect is that maybe since you don’t have an MLA your area in this case Vancouver East Coquitlam-Burke Mountain might not be able to be a part of committees or debates like other places might be able to be a part of.

    • dickensdiv16

      Good points, good thinking! Without a representative for your area, the point of view of your neighbourhood might not be heard! I’m glad that people who live in Vancouver East will have the chance to be heard again soon!

  2. den10@sea43

    2. Its pretty bad because if one problem happens in that area there MLA will not be able to do any about it so I think that they should have a by-election sooner. If There is not an MLA to stand up for that riding then that could lead to big problems.

  3. Crazychicken lover

    2#without an mla, the people who live in the vamcouver east would be much harder because than they would lose the representative of theyre riding and that means that if an issue like for an example, a lack of water going around and maybe its turning black or something and theyre is no one to present that case or alert the municipal or provincial government about that issue. Or maybe when a important debate is coming and theyre is no one to represemt your riding and it is a important debate that is very important to the community. It is very important to have an mla or a representaive for your riding because it could change the way you live and can affect the community.

    • dickensdiv16

      Good points, Crazychicken lover. You’ve pointed out that the role of the MLA is not only to share information and to talk to community members, but also to listen to the community they represent! Thank you for using a great example!

  4. DancingPorcupine

    2. Not having an MLA could effect a community because they might not get the chances that other communities are getting. For example, they might not get to take part in debates because they won’t have anyone to represent them.

  5. super cheese cake

    #2 Without the MLA there will be no one to represent the community and to speak out for them so if there are any problem happened in this community there will be no one to solve it. The election is important we should do it as soon as possible.

  6. Soccerboy123ABC

    #3 I think that without a MLA representing the community if there’s a problem or some big thing is happening in there area there would be none to be the big force and speaking for the whole community.If there is none representing your community it might change the way you live your daily life or what is happening around you . The election is really important and there are many more reasons why ,we should have it as soon as possible .

    • dickensdiv16

      Soccerboy123ABC, you’ve pointed out that elected representatives have the potential to unite people and to speak with one voice for a community rather than hearing from a number of individuals. I think there can be real value in this.

  7. Ginger

    #1I think that a major difference between provincial elections and by-elections will be low voter turnout. People who aren’t very informed or motivated might not feel the need to vote in this by-election, and this could really change the experience for the candidates. People might think “I just voted, I don’t need to vote again”, and this might lead to people being unhappy with who the new MLA is and that may cause the new MLA to not enjoy their job as much. As the last provincial election was held in 2013, the other MLAs will have had time to grow and build bonds with their community; these new candidates might not have as much support and preparation time for the upcoming by-election. Before a regular election, candidates might get support from colleagues and other candidates, but during a by-election, everyone else has to be doing their own job because there is no government dissolution. Also, the parties and candidates have very little time to set up advertising and get the word out to tell citizens all of the great things their party has to offer.

    • dickensdiv16

      Ginger, you’ve made some good points here. You’re right, voter turnout is lower in by-elections, but I think the conclusion you draw that people may not feel as committed to their MLA and that this might affect the MLA’s work as well is an excellent thing to consider. When elected, these new MLAs will have less time before they start working towards the next election! Excellent thinking and great connections to our earlier work on Student Vote!

  8. the DUDE

    #2. If you put a bunch of people inside a particular area, thousands of people, without picking a leader or allowing them to pick a leader, you have right there a possibility for anarchy. Jenny Kwan is part of our leadership. It is very good that we are having a by-election to pick a new leader because without leadership people get angry about things and they have nobody to blame. Since they have nobody to blame they get super upset and possibly stir trouble. Also, if there was a big earthquake, and buildings were toppling over like crazy, we would need leadership to help guide people into safety. Our leaders are the ones who organize the army and police and everything in these situations. To say that we have not had this part of the government for a full 5 months is quite scary, and it is good that we are having a by-election.

    • dickensdiv16

      the DUDE, leadership can really be an important factor for people, especially in times of crisis! You’ve picked a unique point of view to represent in your answer and I appreciate it. We are lucky that we have so many levels of government to support citizens even when we are without an elected representative at one level (for example, even though Vancouver East has no MLA, they still have Municipal and Federal representatives in place). Great connections to our Student Vote work!


    #1 I think that the Canadian by-election will be a little different than a regular election because when people are thinking, “Oh, look there is an election. Didn’t we just have one?” By-elections normally have less voter turn-out because they get less attention because there is a shorter campaign period. It is February 2nd and we’re hearing about it in mid-January. For this reason some people have a hard time deciding who they’ll vote for.
    #2 When citizens don’t have someone to represent them and express their opinions for them in a governmental meeting, then the community is not heard in Parliament. For example, Parliament could pass laws that affect us but we wouldn’t be part of the decision. For example, if they were going to cut $100 million from Provincial Parks, it would affect lots of parks near us like Cypress, Seymour and Indian Arm, places we enjoy.

    • dickensdiv16

      You’re right, THEMANGO404, people approach a by-election a little bit differently, and those candidates risk encountering what you talk about – a lack of engagement! Many people I’ve spoken to were surprised to see election signs up around town and weren’t aware there was going to be a by-election. I’m glad that you place such a high priority on having your opinion heard in government decisions. Great example, too!

  10. crazymemeslol123

    2# I think it would be a huge problem to the ridings who don’t have MLA to for there riding or it could cause local destruction of the taxes and payments every month or there will be nasty stuff happening and no commitments to be made so everything would pretty much be in chaos without an MLA to stand up to.

    • dickensdiv16

      crazymemeslol123, you make an interesting connection to taxes – people paying without a government representative may seem strange to some. It’s always good to have someone standing up for citizens!

  11. Rouge

    #1 I think that it would be much different running in a by-election then running in the first actual election earlier that year. I think that some people in that community may not be as enthusiastic again because they have already voted and maybe their person already won. I think that the by-elections would have a lower voter turnout because people won’t be as motivated to vote or as informed on the new candidates and they may feel overwhelmed on who to vote for in such a short period of time.This would impact the candidates running for MP because less people would vote for them and if hardly anyone votes and a new candidate becomes the MP I think that they would feel a bit hurt that part of the community isn’t willing to vote and help take action. In the other elections the candidates have times to meet the community and form trust and relationships with the citizens. This would also be challenging for the organizers of the by-election because they would have to put out: posters, information, websites, and ads all in a short time so that they can be ready for the election. The other organizers of the first election would have loads of more time to plan and carefully think out the details of the election.

    • dickensdiv16

      Rouge, I think it might be challenging as a candidate to feel that kind of apathy or lack of connection among your constituents. It is a short time for candidates to campaign, which may affect their ability to really connect with the residents of their riding. I like your point about the perception of voters that they had already elected the representative that they supported, and the by-election might feel like a second choice. It will be really interesting to see what happens on February 2!

  12. A.ayewthelegend

    #1 I think it would be hard to encourage people to vote again. Also because they might just be like “oh this party is already the majority. Why does this vote matter?” I would just treat it like a real election and come to schools, advertise, campaign and work hard. You need to still get the most people you can out voting again and teach youth to continue with there part in society.

    • dickensdiv16

      Great point, A.ayewthelegend, I do think there might be a tendency for people to assume that the effect on the overall government will not be as significant. I wonder what would happen if the general election was really close and a couple of ridings could make a difference in who held a majority? Interesting!

  13. Purple Pickle

    #1 it would be different because the election would only be in their riding and everybody would already know the overall candidate turnout so they wouldn’t really need to vote strategically because no matter who gets elected it would change the premier unless your city province ect is in a minority government, so people would probably just vote for the party they like the most.

    • dickensdiv16

      Strategic voting is something that I think many voters consider. You’re right that having an election in just one or two ridings may help eliminate some reasons for people to vote strategically. Great thinking!

  14. The Bean

    #1 It must be hard for candidates in this by-election to get lots of interest and support in there platforms especially since there was a federal election so recently. A lot of people learn about the parties and their platforms through adds and party messages which come from leaders and the actual parties. Even though the candidate is a member of a party they’re not going to get Tv adds or giant posters displaying their message. Because of this there may also be a low voter turnout since people don’t know what the parties stand for they may be inclined to just not vote, because they won’t actually know who to vote for. We did get a little info sheet about the by-election, where to vote and stuff like that. People probably won’t think it’s as important as other elections because it’s on a smaller scale. But really it might be even more important than the others. Since your voting for who you want to represent YOU as opposed to who you want to LEAD you will look more at the actual candidates as opposed to their parties. I think this is actually a better way to vote because you have to think more about your own values as opposed to just voting to get a party out of power.

  15. iron lanturn

    #2 not having a MLA will totally change the community because if something big happens there nobody can fix it [earthquake].
    Also not having a MLA will mean who will stand up for our riding in parlement.

  16. smeagaleater10

    If there is a community without an MLA that means there is nobody is leading the place. A MLA is partly important because without a person in that position, there is nobody to participate in debates or consider petitions. With an MLA there is a person that represents the community and brings citizens’ concerns to the government for action.

  17. baconguy

    #1. The by-election would be different for the candidates who lost because this is a bigger chance for them than before because the people who are voting (assuming that the person in for candidate that caused the by-election is new to politics) won’t know the new candidate very well and because of that may not vote for them. For the new candidate it would be different because they are new to politics.

  18. arcticowl

    1# Well, I think that there is a big difference in the two . How there is a difference is because I think that most of the candidates in the Canadian wide election think that its not going to count as much , because there is so many MP’s in Canada so its not going to count that much anyway . Then in a by-election they people know that its only Vancouver so if they win its going to count 100 present .

  19. Joaquin

    1# I think an MLA has a lot of important roles such as reviewing new laws that want to be made, representing their constituents, they also have the opportunities to ask the government questions about plans and policies. Some MLA’s get to perform different roles with more responsibility. “Additional parliamentary roles: to ensure proceedings in the Chamber go smoothly, some MLAs perform specialized roles as presiding officers (Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Assistant Deputy Speaker, Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole), or as caucus officers (House Leaders, Whips)” http://members.leg.bc.ca/work-of-mla/role.htm
    Being an MLA is a serious job, you have to be able to speak about the concerns, worries and troubles of your riding.

  20. balloongirl123

    2 without any MLA the whole community will change a lot because MLA is really important for the world and also of something really bad happens without MLA nobody there can fix it.

  21. TechNerd

    2. I think it may effect communitys in many different ways. First of all, people in the community usually share their opinions, what needs to be changed, etc to their local MLA. And for this duration (5-6 months) these citizens probably couldn’t share their thoughts to their local MLA’s. Which means that for such a long time the community wouldn’t have anyone to talk about what the community needs and what needs change, etc.

  22. Sr.Fruitcake

    #2 I think that not having and MLA for up 6 months could weaken the community because if you don’t have a specific person to help organize and have powerful support of an idea than you can not feel the same sense of security at least that feeling that some one is leading the community and trying to solve it’s problems. I’m not sure how the neighbor hood is fairing but I wonder weather the people have noticed a differences in the way the community is working and a lack of communal events. I hope that the by election can fix the problems that the community has been having but I do think that our premier Christy Clark should have called the election earlier.

  23. Shadow145

    2. Not having a MLA would cause a lot of problems because nobody could be there to help fix it there would be no one to be in debates.

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