It is hard to imagine that Christmas is just around the corner. The countdown is underway. And these days you don’t have to rely on a simple calendar to help remind you of those looming deadlines. Our grandsons love their chocolate countdown calendars, not to mention the Lego or Play Mobile ones. Our son loves his craft beer countdown and our daughter-in-law has a new tea to try for the twenty-four days before Christmas. Our daughter and her husband, who live and work in Australia, ask us to do a reverse countdown project for them since they live on the other side of the world. For them we put one non-perishable food item in a special basket for the twenty-four days before Christmas and on Christmas Eve we deliver the basket, on their behalf, to a local non-profit organization. With the hectic pace that we all face during the holiday season these ways of celebrating the countdown to Christmas make the days more joyful for our entire family. I am sure you have many of the same traditions in your home. But this December there is also another countdown underway. The referendum on proportional representation will come to an end on December 7th at 4:30 pm. It has recently been extended by one week to ensure that there is the maximum amount of time available for British Columbians to get their ballots in and have their voices heard. As I write this column the return rate for voters in our region is at about nineteen percent. That will undoubtedly increase in the days ahead, but we need to make sure that everyone is encouraged to complete and send in their ballot. Your voice matters. There are few decisions as important as a potential change to our electoral system and with no regional threshold in place, it is critical that all of us take the time to consider the options and get the voting package in the mail. While the time to request a new ballot has ended, there are some provisions to request a voting package if you need a replacement package because you lost or damaged the one you received, if you made a mistake on your ballot, if your name is incorrect or misspelled on the certification envelope or if you applied for a new package before November 23 and still have not received it. As we count down the days to Christmas, we will also be anxiously awaiting the outcome of the referendum. If you have sent in your voting package, thank you for making sure that the voice of northerners is heard. If you haven’t yet done that, there may still be time. Please put that at the top of your “to-do” list! The countdown is underway and the implications for our future may be very significant.
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