Still too many questions about PR
First-past-the-post has been with us for a long time and it has worked well. Today a push is being made to change to a new system of proportional representation. In my opinion a change is not needed, however, many people are being led to believe the PR system will be fairer to all and a new system will create harmony at the polls. Nothing is further from the truth. A little history here. In the early days of Confederation, Canada was small and so was the population. Canada adopted a voting system similar to England. Public meetings were held, people voted, and the politicians in Ottawa and the provincial capitals met several times a year to debate issues and make laws. Life was good. Then times changed, the population grew, people asked more from government.
To better identify the philosophy of certain groups, political parties were formed. Later, constituencies were formed based on population and boundaries which are reviewed every second election and amended where necessary.
Today there are 87 constituencies in British Columbia, where a single MLA is elected to represent and serve the people of that area.
FPTP has worked well. B.C. has had only a few minority governments over the years, including the current one in which the three-member Greens can bring down the NDP.
The voter’s guide book that accompanies the mail-in ballots for the electoral reform referendum explains FPTP maintains one MLA per constituency, while the PR system will allow for larger districts to have two MLAs
In 1986, dual member constituencies were introduced and failed. The government returned to the single MLA and adjusted the size of the constituencies based on the formula of population and area the MLA would represent.
Pages 12 to 21 of the guide book deal with the three options under the PR banner. Page 13 indicates you could have more than one MLA with larger constituencies. But which one do you go to and how often could you see the MLA? What if the elected MLAs were from different parties?
Pages 14 and 15 deal with Dual Member Proportional. Page 15 states: “Voters vote for one option on the ballot – a party’s candidate(s) or an independent candidate.” You are denied a choice of the second candidate being from another party or independent candidate?
Pages 16 to 19 deal with Mixed Member Proportional. One MLA would represent their electoral district and several MLAs would represent their region. Size and shape of region would be decided by legislative committee after the referendum.
Pages 20 and 21 refer to another concept, Rural Urban Proportional, which is too convoluted to explain.
In short, the NDP are selling this concept simply on “change.” If they win the referendum they will make the final design by legislative committee, cabinet, and electoral commission.
MLAs will then be farther away from their constituents. Instead of having one MLA representing a smaller area, constituents may have two, one for the voter and one vote on a party list.
All these options will create confusion for the voter and probably reduce voter turnout, result in time delays for election results to be determined, and more often than not it will result in coalition governments.
Only a political science graduate could have drawn up such a convoluted proposal.
The voting public wants to know what the parties stand for, the character of the candidates and where to vote. The PR lobby seem to have forgotten the voter and have been captured by the student’s thesis.
Under FPTP, the winner of the election goes to Victoria representing all the people of his or her riding. From time to time, the MLA may have to vote against the government. He or she has that right and choice.
I am saying no to changing our voting system. I would ask you to do the same.
One final note. I notice on a PR business card it states: “Fair Vote Canada.” I wonder: If the PR people win the B.C. referendum, is the next step Canada?
Jim Hewitt served as the Social Credit MLA for BoundarySimilkameen from 1975 to 1987, and held several ministerial posts during that time, including agriculture and energy.