LETTER – Prop rep referendum offers historic opportunity to get rid of FPTP

STV is one version of proposrtional representation.(Image:

Well, the ink has barely dried on the proposed legislation for next year’s referendum on proportional representation, and the fear-mongering has already begun. Todd Stone and Peter Milobar, our Liberal MLAs, recently made comments expressing concerns which have little basis in reality.

In fact, B.C.’s 2018 referendum to adopt PR represents a historic opportunity to jettison First Past the Post, a flawed and outdated system that routinely distorts the will of voters. By inflating the seat count of the largest party, FPTP usually hands majority governments to a party that the majority of BCers actually voted against.

What’s more, small differences in voter preferences are magnified at election time to give us pendulum swings from right to left and back again, with each change in power seeing one government undo the work of its predecessor, creating uncertainty for investors and a dysfunctional policy environment over the long term. BC can do better.

Under PR, the ratio of MLAs to voters would remain the same — no one is proposing any change there. However, since the largest parties would no longer be over-represented, there would be more room for alternate viewpoints. No one party has all the answers, and collaboration produces better governance. Studies of voting systems all around the world have confirmed this simple fact. Most advanced countries around the world use PR — Canada, the US & the UK are the last holdouts.

Contrary to what our MLAs are saying, PR would not diminish rural representation, but rural voters will get more of what they voted for. When all votes count equally, a far higher percentage of citizens end up with representatives who actually align with their policies. For the interior, that means that we would still elect a lot of Liberals, but that they would be joined by other MLAs from other parties which also receive high support. The tradition of one party being given carte blanche and the wishes of all other voters being ignored would be ended. It’s fairer to those on the left as well as the right edges of the spectrum.

No wonder the Liberals are nervous. This is the first time the referendum deck isn’t stacked against PR. So, get used to the fearmongering — there is bound to be much more of it. I urge voters to consider the source. The simple fact is that FPTP has worked really well for the Liberals to run the show, and naturally they want to keep it that way. It’s the only thing that keeps them in power when less than half of people in the province actually support them.

Sharing power and having to learn a less adversarial style of getting things done will be tough for the Liberals at first, but I have no doubt that they’ll be able to figure it out. And then we can all benefit from a system where policy has to represent the will of a true majority of voters. Less crazy swings back and forth, more thoughtful legislation, and voters having representatives who align with their own priorities. Sounds good to me.


About Mel Rothenburger (6119 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on LETTER – Prop rep referendum offers historic opportunity to get rid of FPTP

  1. I didn,t watch the news tonight because i didn’t want to again have to look at Todd Stone’s insincere face or listen to his unbelievable bxxxxxt. He,s a real chip off the old Clarke block.His self deprecating statement,” We didn,t listen to the people,but” cuts no ice with me, If you believe that bit you’ll believe anything.He,s the perfect example of a political animal.We almost had the STV. Too bad it didn,t happen .Maybe it would have slowed Mr.Stone down and lessened the size of the BC obituary column re highway fatalitys.He was a lousy Highways Minister .Anarchy rules on the roads. You rarely see a cop and it seems one can use anything he pleases for headlights and far too many don’t know the location of their dimmer switch.
    What does all this have to do with STV? A great deal.It gives all of us a chance to express our opinion through our representative.
    Mr Rothenburger,bless him, Mr Forseth and Mr McClelland are all out to lunch on this one.

  2. In my experience (60 years of voting) FPTP has simply meant that we jump from one dictatorship to another.In the early years of socred and NDP the premiers paid very little attention to the people. Then came Dave Barrett and he was anything but perfect but he got the “People” ball rolling.Not much has changed except that todays NDP seem to understand the need for actual reform.Instead of voting parties (who seem to accumulate the over riding hatred of the people,) out of power ,he wants to bring in a form of Proportional voting that will stop the idea of dictatorial majorities.It does seem that at present the NDP/GREEN coalition is being rather dictatorial but only in a manner that will bring the province both economicaly and environmentally back to some equilibrium.But they do understand that this is a temporary condition and that under a pro rep system it will become a condition of the past.
    Now ! what we need is many community forums and even classes on Pro Rep and it’s different forms so the people will understand the benefits of each.
    There are at present three forms of Pro Rep of interest. MMP, STV and RU mix.This is what we are faced with.What the hell do they mean and how will each effect our way of life , our relationship with First Nations and the environment.
    So how about it Mr Horgan and Mr Weaver , are you willing to set up educational forums for the voters of BC? So we can understand and have a more effective system.One that includes everyone.

  3. Ken McClelland // October 11, 2017 at 9:03 AM // Reply

    Call me crazy, but I still prefer FPTP, particularly after a quick re-read/refresher of Mel’s thoughts on pro-rep and STV. FPTP is simple, and clear-cut. I want my vote, as it should, to go to whom I vote for, as my first and only choice, even if it is surplus to the requirements to elect that particular person. I do not wish to have my votes split and apportioned to my second and so on choices, nor do I wish to see a perpetually hung legislature or parliament due to a few members with a particular axe to grind. Naturally, those groups that fail to elect their candidate of choice under FPTP find that voting system unfair. When they do elect their candidate, they don’t seem to mind FPTP so much…Politics, unlike pro-rep, isn’t “nice”, and even though it is very Canadian to compromise and share, it doesn’t seem to work well in the political arena. It can be bloodsport even at the civic level, and it most certainly is at the provincial and federal levels. Politicians are elected to lead, and if you don’t like the way they lead or their beliefs, another election is just around the corner. Just because your candidate does not get elected, or is in opposition, does not make them any less your representative, if they legitimately earned the job in the first place. They are elected and are indeed required to represent all constituents, not just party members. Our current MLA’s sit in opposition. That does not make them any less our representatives. For a humorous Canadian take on a form of pro-rep, check Rick Mercer’s interpretation of it, proposed in Ontario a few years ago.

  4. I sincerely hope that people look to the positive when it comes time to vote. I am tired of being governed by a party that only received 30 – 40 % of the vote. It is time for change !

  5. I still agree with this one from Mel for the past.

    As far as I’m concerned, leave well enough along. We do not need small minority (or splinter) parties holding, the ones with the largest amounts of votes, to ransom. Nor do we need on-going, never ending, elections because co-coalitions fall apart. The party with the largest amount of seats should be government until such time as they are defeated.

  6. Anything to do with our present political representation, including their “sound bites” and other PR moves/announcements has me concerned…I have so little trust in them. On that thought, if they are against PR then PR must be something to seriously consider!

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