Electoral change doesn’t mean better government
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