Elec­toral change doesn’t mean bet­ter gov­ern­ment

The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion -

It’s now time to fish or cut bait. We have the bal­lots to vote on chang­ing our vot­ing sys­tem in B.C. and now only need to de­cide what to vote for.

We have the ef­fec­tively clean, sim­ple, time-proven West­min­ster sys­tem, of­ten re­ferred to as first past the post, or the un­tried in B.C., com­pli­cated, and in some cases un­fair pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion sys­tem.

A form of PR has been de­feated twice in referendum­s in the notso-dis­tant past in B.C., how­ever here it is again, knock­ing on our door look­ing for treats much like chil­dren on Hal­loween. Will this be the three strikes and you’re out ref­er­en­dum? One can only hope.

We need to take credit for our present sys­tem and look at the ben­e­fits we have re­ceived from it over the years. As an ex­am­ple, Canada is se­cond in the top 15 coun­tries in the world. We are num­ber one for qual­ity of life, and num­ber five for standard of liv­ing.

Let’s look at the tax rates for some of the Euro­pean coun­tries who have pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion:

• Bel­gium – in­come tax 40.7 per cent, value-added tax 21 per cent.

• Den­mark – in­come tax 36.2 per cent, value-added tax 25 per cent.

• Fin­land – in­come tax 30.8 per cent, value-added tax 24 per cent.

• Nether­lands – in­come tax 30.4 per cent, value-added tax 21 per cent.

• Ice­land – in­come tax 29.2 per cent, value-added tax 24 per cent.

• Nor­way – in­come tax 27.9 per cent, value-added tax 25 per cent.

Canada, on the other hand, has in­come tax of 23.1 per cent and a value-added tax of 12 per cent (seven per cent pro­vin­cial sales tax, five per cent GST), mak­ing it 23 out of the 25 high­est taxed coun­tries. So it doesn’t ap­pear that there are any tax ben­e­fits by chang­ing our way of elect­ing gov­ern­ments.

The present sys­tem in B.C. is a plu­ral­ity sys­tem and rep­re­sen­ta­tives are elected in 87 rid­ings in B.C. The per­son who wins the most votes in the rid­ing rep­re­sents the rid­ing. The party that wins the most seats forms the gov­ern­ment. The party who wins the next high­est num­ber of seats forms the op­po­si­tion and oth­ers who are elected sit as elected MLAs for their rid­ing.

There is noth­ing wrong with this sys­tem, how­ever it does make it dif­fi­cult for new par­ties to ac­tu­ally form the gov­ern­ment or par­tic­i­pate in gov­ern­ment.

Some­times it comes down to how things are ex­plained.

As an ex­am­ple, the pro­po­nents of PR say that the Greens re­ceived some 300,000 votes in the last B.C. elec­tion but only elected three MLAs so from a per­cent­age of the pop­u­lar vote point of view they are un­der­rep­re­sented. They state un­der PR they would have elected 15 MLAs.

That in fact is a true state­ment, how­ever they fail to ac­knowl­edge that some 1,200,000 vot­ers did not vote for them, and elected other rep­re­sen­ta­tives, so in ef­fect they were re­jected by a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­lar vote.

We can ar­gue the pros and cons of the two sys­tems un­til the cows come home, how­ever if we look at the ac­com­plish­ments of Cana­di­ans, and Canada over the years, it is pretty ob­vi­ous that we have a great coun­try sup­ported by a good sta­ble gov­ern­ing sys­tem and we re­ally have no need to change.

Those who want to change the sys­tem are self-in­ter­ested po­lit­i­cal par­ties, as op­posed to the ev­ery­day av­er­age cit­i­zen of this coun­try.

To sug­gest that we would get bet­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tion from our MLA by elect­ing him/her un­der a PR sys­tem rather than the FPTP sys­tem is just not so.

Nor would we get bet­ter gov­ern­ment.

What we would get is more MLAs, more gov­ern­ment and more taxes. Eric Allen Prince Ge­orge

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