The difference between a minority and majority government has boiled down to one seat determined by just nine voters. Who influenced those voters and what did they say?

The close vote in the Courtenay-Comox riding could be attributed to an all candidates forum that used a global lens to debate local community issues. The non-partisan all candidates forum, branded as ‘Decent Work for All – Tell Your MLA What You Want,’ brought out a diversity of community voters who participated in a discussion where local issues were framed within the United Nations Global Goals, a framework adopted by Canada and the world to move us toward a just, healthy, and prosperous world.

Working with the Global Goals values of universality, integration, and transformative thinking, the Comox Valley Global Awareness Network (CVGAN), a Chapter of the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC), conducted multiple roundtables in the community with key leaders over the past year. This deep community engagement led to the all candidates forum event drawing in close to 100 community leaders and representation from each political party.

“With only a 9 vote margin for a riding that was much further divided in 2013, I have to wonder what changed,” said Colleen Hanley, Courtenay resident and long term member of the CVGAN steering committee. “We’ve been raising awareness about the universality of the Global Goals and our responsibility to tackle them in our community for the last year. The election results prove what citizen activism can do”.

In 2013, the Comox Valley riding saw a margin of victory for the BC Liberals by 1,768 votes. Yesterday’s count revealed a 9 vote lead for the NDP. What were voters thinking about when they went to the polls?

The Courtenay-Comox all candidates meeting was part of a larger initiative, BC2030, which aims to foster provincial leadership on the Global Goals. With 6 of the 17 goals aligning with provincial responsibilities, the BC2030 initiative encouraged voters to engage with their candidates using a global lens. With a deadline to achieve the Goals by 2030, it can be expected that the Global Goals will be making an appearance in next year’s municipal elections as well as future provincial and federal elections.

“When the public starts to see the connection between local and global issues, that’s where you start to see change happening,” said Dan Harris, BCCIC Program Officer. “It will take collective transformational thinking to make progress on the Global Goals so it’s worth it to get out into your community and try to influence the election debate”.

The Global Goals come with a set of targets and indicators that Canada has pledged to reach by 2030, but progress will need to be tracked at community and provincial levels to feed up into the framework. BCCIC produced a detailed policy scorecard for the riding of Courtenay-Comox which detailed how the community is currently performing on each of the 17 Global Goals.

“The urgency with which we need to address the issues of job stability, affordable housing, transportation, and coastal health is such that people are really starting to pay attention, and that shows in yesterday’s vote,” said Deborah Glaser, BCCIC Senior Policy Analyst. “It is also important to remember that these issues do not stand alone,” she continued. “Communities like Courtenay-Comox recognize that these issues are linked and they expect their representatives to make decisions that reflect that.”

Kareen Wong

Communications Officer, BC Council for International Cooperation