Referendum on Electoral Reform

Election after election, a minority of BC voters decides our government and then that government gets a four-year dictatorship. It’s minority rule, plain and simple. And it’s unfair and undemocratic.

The referendum on electoral reform is an extremely rare opportunity to advance our democracy by making it fairer, less prone to special interests and more representative of all British Columbians.

A steady stream of letters to the editor in support of proportional representation (PR) in our local newspapers will help encourage dialogue and raise awareness on the importance of voting in the upcoming referendum.

PR is simply fair
• With PR – a party that gets 40 percent of the vote gets 40 percent of the seats in the Legislature. Power is proportional to voter support and resembles what we voted for.

• With PR – a majority government in BC with a minority of the votes would be a thing of the past – no more 100 percent of the power with 39 percent of the vote, as is the case with the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system!

• With PR – your vote will count, your vote will make a difference and your vote will give you a voice in the legislature.

• With PR – no more holding your nose to vote ‘strategically’ for a candidate and party you don’t believe in just because they have the best chance of defeating a party you dislike even more.

• With PR – you can choose the parties or candidates that best reflect your values, issue preferences, or belief in their ability to be a good representative. You will be able to vote your true intentions knowing that your vote will not be ‘wasted’. Any system, such as FPTP that discourages people from voting with their true intentions is not democratic or fair.

• With PR – no matter where you live, rural or urban, your area will be represented. Gone are the days, for example, when Vancouver Island or rural BC are shut out of government decision-making because the winning party does not represent them.

• PR – systems address some of the challenges that result from citizens feeling left out of their democracy. It opens the door for those traditionally excluded.

• PR – limits the influence of powerful lobbyists and interest groups of big corporations. It’s not as easy to influence smaller parties and coalition governments. This helps temper big corporate money that has traditionally influenced our major parties. Perhaps why big corporations do not generally favour the change to a PR electoral system.

• PR – encourages more collaboration, less confrontation. Coalition and minority governments are among the most effective governments under which Canada has benefited. Pension plans and our universal health care system were the result of federal Liberal-NDP coalition governments.

• PR – is far more likely to produce a legislature in which no single party governs like a bully with an absolute majority. When parties need each other to pass legislation respectful debate is more likely to happen, changing the atmosphere of winner-take-all, which has turned our politics toxic.

• PR – in more than 90 countries around the world PR has led to more satisfaction with democratic institutions, more diverse involvement in elected politics, elected more women and minorities, increased voter turnout and youth engagement – PR gives everyone a voice.

• PR – is the most common democratic system in the world. If citizens of other democracies can figure it out, so can British Columbians.

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