Will British Columbians embrace electoral reform? Comox Valley residents have already started voting in the referendum to either retain our First Past The Post system of electing provincial governments, or switch to a version of Proportional Representation. Most households have received their mail-in ballots by now, and have until Nov. 30 to return them — postage free!
Readers of Decafnation have been sending us their thoughts on electoral reform. Here are three of them:
Vote yes, so your values and your votes count
By ALICE GRANGE
Too many of us have water that is not safe to drink, air that is not safe to breathe, and food that is not safe to eat; meanwhile corporate profits continue to soar.
I support Proportional Representation, (PR), because I am tired of the rich running and ruining British Columbia. Corporate funded ‘majority’ governments elected by less than 40% of the voters, continue to allow corporations to profit from our water and other natural resources. These same corporations dump toxic tailings into our waterways, incinerate their industrial waste, clearcut our remaining forests, and pollute our soil.
The 90+ Countries that have instituted Proportional Representation use 117% more renewable energy! They also have lower levels of income inequality, they spend less on the military, and are less prejudiced towards LGBTQ2+ and ethnic minorities…. Women are 8% better represented, 12% more of eligible youth vote, and civil liberties are better protected than in non PR countries. https://prorepfactcheck.ca.
I support PR because I want my values, my concerns for my neighbours and the water, air and soil we all depend on, to be heard. Politics has become a corporate money game. No matter how I vote, under the current FPTP system, unless I have oodles to donate, my voice is not heard in the Legislative Assembly and my vote doesn’t count!
We have an opportunity here, to turn the tide. To ensure that nearly everyone’s vote counts towards electing an MLA. The NO side’s well funded spokespeople would have you believe that party hacks will determine who represents you. That is not true. Under all of the systems proposed by the BC government there will be open lists. This means that you vote for who you want, even across party lines. As with the current system, the people on the ballot will be chosen by the party membership; as a voter you will get to put a check mark beside the person/people you wish to represent you and your vote WILL be represented in parliament.
Take the values related quiz at http://referendumguide.ca, as I did, to discover the form of PR proposed on the referendum ballot that best suits you.
And finally, let’s address the lie that PR will bring in more fringe parties. FPTP has saddled Ontarians with Doug Ford with a mandated ‘majority’ of only 41% of the popular vote. Surely we can do better than this with PR?
For more accurate facts on PR and FPTP, stop reading the slick corporate ads against PR and check out the facts. https://prorepfactcheck.ca.
Alice Grange is an Emotional Freedom Techniques (Tapping) practitioner who would love to live in a democracy. She lives in Courtenay
6 advantages of Proportional Representation
By DAVID ANSON
- A party wins seats in parliament according to its share of the popular vote. (In the First Past the Post system, it is common for a party to get a majority of the seats with a minority of the votes cast.) Most “majority governments” were not elected by the majority of citizens. There is only one instance of a government elected in B.C. with a real majority since 1956.
- The great majority of votes count—the great majority of voters elect someone. (In the First Past the Post system, a significant number of votes are wasted—a significant number of voters don’t elect anyone.) In “safe ridings”, where one party always wins, the experience of futility in voting happens repeatedly to the same voters. Voter turnout is 7% higher in countries with proportional representation.
- Voters can vote for what they believe in. (In the First Past the Post system, voters often vote against a party they don’t like by voting for whatever alternative party has the best chance of winning.) This kind of “strategic voting”, even if successful, leads to a lack of representation.
- The make-up of parliament is a close reflection of the diverse points of view of the voting population. (The First Past the Post system does not acknowledge the benefit of diverse points of view and skews the election result in favour of large parties.) Once a riding is won, all of its population is considered to be represented by the victor. This exaggerates homogeneity.
- An election is marked by a general campaign aimed at all voters. (In the First Past the Post system, an election is marked by a specific campaign to influence voters in “swing ridings”.) The desperate effort to pick up votes in swing ridings has led to smear campaigns against opponents and even to violations of election law without significant consequences. There is less likelihood that elections decided by proportional representation will be subverted.
- The government is obliged to work together with other parties to make decisions for the long term. (The First Past the Post system encourages hyper-partisanship in which the winning party follows its own agenda.) Some of the most popular and most enduring legislation in Canada was put into place by minority governments in which parties relaxed their separate agendas and focused on shared values.
David Anson is a Comox resident.
People don’t vote because the system doesn’t represent them
By JIM GILLIS
This November we have the opportunity to vote for Proportional Representation and change our present First Past the Post to an electoral system that represents all voters. We only have to look to the United States to see a two-party system locked in a death grip. In the New Brunswick recent election the Conservatives won by one constituency with 31 percent of the vote over the Liberals with 37 percent of the vote.
Citizens are not voting because they are not being represented in our present system. We need to change to Proportional Representation. Proportional Representation in a variety of forms is the method used by many Western countries. It is not new. It is a tried and true system that works. We as citizens should make a point of finding the facts
for ourselves by reviewing Fair Vote Canada’s fact checker website (https://prorepfactcheck.ca).
Over the last 150 years we have made many changes to our electoral system. In the beginning only rich men and landowners could vote, it was expanded to include all men, in the 20th century women were given the vote and in the last seventy years, Chinese, Japanese and our First Nations were given the vote. Let’s make another change that will include all voters in the final tally.
This November when your electoral reform package arrives vote for Proportional Representation a system that represents all voters.
Jim Gillis is a former Area B representative to the Comox Valley Regional District board, who still lives in Area B.