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The Rise of Aquaria

In the fall of 2003, British Columbia Premier Honourable Gordon Campbell was implicated in an insider-trading scandal. The scandal involved his brother Michael Campbell, a financial forecaster and commentator on BCTV. It came to light that Michael Campbell had acquired insider information on the stock market and shared this information with Gordon Campbell in the spring of 2000. The resulting media scrum, and the implication of a few of the Liberal caucus caused a grassroots movement to have the sullied Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Premier recalled. The succession of Quebec from the rest of Canada had the political elite in an uproar. They feared that they could be eliminated and they were willing to take whatever lumps they had to in order to hold onto what they had.

By Christmas of 2003 Gordon Campbell stepped down as premier as a bill supporting a referendum on election reform was brought in by the two sitting NDP MLA's. The pressure in the media and in each and every constituency office in British Columbia gave support to the bill and the electoral process in British Columbia was irrevocably changed. The Australian Ballot system was brought in, where each voter selects their first choice, and second and third and so forth. The ballots are totalled and figured based on preference of choice, not absolute numbers. The resulting elections in the ridings of the disgraced Liberal MLA's were a surprise for everyone. Of the 13 ridings where elections were conducted 3 elected Liberal MLA's, 2 Green Party MLA's, 1 Alliance Party MLA, 1 Progressive Conservative Party MLA, 2 Independent MLA's, and 4 New Democrat Party MLA's! The NDP was declared the official opposition and they rallied their member's province wide for the coming political storm.

The Liberal party cried foul, but the process to rescind the bill for electoral reform required another provincial referendum with 75% support. When the new MLA's were sworn into office a storm of controversy swept through the Legislative Assembly. The allusions of disparity cast upon the MLA's that were elected in the old system grew into a fever pitch in the media and throughout the province. The Lieutenant Governor was given a 1,000,000-name petition calling for a general election. The Lieutenant Governor used a long-forgotten executive power to dissolve the roles of the Legislative Assembly and call a general election. The Lieutenant Governor then stepped down and resigned his position.

The resulting election was fought just as the New Year rung in. The provincial general election was to take place on the 31st of January 2004. The civil service took the loss of the executive of the government in stride and continued working as always, although certain politically motivated budget restraints and staffing reduction orders were ignored. When the ballots were tallied 76 MLA's were elected to serve 5 years. There were a great many independent MLA's, totalling 26. There were 17 Liberal MLA's, 23 New Democrat Party MLA's, 5 Green Party MLA's, 1 Marijuana Party MLA, 2 Alliance Party MLA's, 1 Progressive Conservative MLA, and 1 Social Credit MLA. As there was no clear majority it was to be a Minority government at best. The Caucus was drawn from the larger political parties and the independents, although the Green Party was able to get one member into the Caucus as the minister for the Environment.

What followed was a very difficult year as the dynamic of the minority government developed and evolved into a functioning electoral body. All votes within the legislature were done by blind ballot, thus all MLA's were encouraged to take part and vote with their gut and their heart instead of their political affiliations. Some bills and private member's bills did especially well; others were quashed for no apparent reason. All in all, it worked no worse nor better than any previous government because one had to keep the majority of the assembly happy or nothing worked, no bills could be passed.

As the rest of Canada struggled with the renewed ice age, western Canada struggled with its identity. The renewed ice sheet excluded British Columbia, seeming to avoid crossing the border into the province from the rest of Canada. The feeling that British Columbians were somehow different from the rest of Canadians was strengthened by this strange phenomenon. Those that could travel from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and the Yukon and Northwest Territories arrived in droves at first, but the weather soon cut off the influx of new residents. The weather seemed no different than normal for the time of year, but there were subtle differences. The clouds hung low in the sky most of the time, heavily overcast and raining more often than not.

The description of Vancouver being situated in a Temperate Rainforest had never been truer. It rained heavily in Vancouver at least a few hours every morning from 3am to 7am, after that it would stop and the sun would come out. It remained overcast but warm and muggy and people began to get squirrelly. The heat and humidity was something that most life-long BC residents had never experienced. Violent crimes of passion were on an all-time high, with incidents of road-rage, murder and assault becoming alarmingly frequent. As the seasons passed the temperature and humidity returned to normal levels, although the rainfall continued to be heavier than usual.

By the December of 2004 British Columbia had settled into the long haul of everyday life. The Ice Sheet covering most of Canada was still inexplicably there, but as it didn't seem to be entering BC most people ignored it. The hydroelectric dams were running at maximum because of the increased runoff from the Rocky Mountains. The Ice Sheet's influence on the weather along the Rockies caused increased snowfall, almost twice as much as usual. This increased snowfall added to the snowpack and subsequent runoff into many of the dams throughout the eastern edge of BC. This extra electricity, that was so badly needed by California added to the provincial coffers and made the provincial debt disappear. It appeared that BC Hydro (a crown corporation) was going to pay a dividend to every BC resident as a form of profit sharing. People were rejoicing their financial windfall, totally uncaring to the rest of Canada's woes. It was this complacency that made the next few months especially hard.

February 2005: The Change hits. The large number of power-hungry Sociopathic entrepreneurs and apocalyptic anarchists wanting to 'Cleanse' society cause a very large number of Wasters to be spontaneously created. Before most people had even begun to understand what was happening, Vancouver was a blasted ruin. Every building, structure or living thing was blasted into oblivion from Downtown Vancouver to Hope, from White Rock to Whistler, with pockets of destruction wherever business people, lawyers, politicians and anarchists/goths tended to congregate. Victoria had a few Wasters but a powerful coven of Wiccans wiped them out in a matter of hours. The Empress Hotel was utterly destroyed, as well as the legislative buildings and most of the city's malls.