Still too many ques­tions about PR

Penticton Herald - - OPINION - JIM HE­WITT

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.