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IN THE LEDGE – NDP govt stacking the deck against First Past the Post

Doug Clovechok, Liberal MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, during debate on second reading of Bill 6, Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act, Nov. 23, 2017.

D. Clovechok: …the accidental Premier — promised British Columbians that any referendum question on PR would simply be a yes or no.

Well, that member seems to have the inability to keep his word on anything. As a matter of fact, and I quote from that member for Langford–Juan de Fuca when asked: “‘You are going to have 50 percent say yes or no.’ And you will give them one system to vote on?” His answer? “Yeah, exactly.” Well, not so exactly.

Instead, the NDP will be stacking the deck against first-past-the-post. Voters will be choosing from multiple proportional representation systems. In a ranked ballot form, this means that a combination of PR options will outrate and outweigh first-past-the-post. The PR options they offer are a direct assault on the current system that we have in place, a system that has served this country well for the last 150 years. First-past-the-post is not favourable under a ranked ballot vote.

Voters who choose first- past-the-post as their first choice will have to choose between multiple PR systems for their second and third choices. If their first-past-the-post doesn’t win on the first ballot, then a victory is unlikely. Voters are being denied the ability to make a clear decision by this government.

Again, let me remind all that — no surprise here — the member for Langford–Juan de Fuca has broken his promise yet again. But we should not have to accept broken promises or botched processes when it comes to lowering the bar for electoral reform.

If the members of this House don’t believe this process will be botched, I need only to point your attention to the fact that this referendum will be orchestrated behind closed doors by this minority government. Imagine that —a decision behind closed doors to create an electoral system that will lead to more decisions behind more closed doors that will potentially lead to the demise of our democratic process. And they want us to believe that they have a transparent government — again, as transparent as mud.

Surely, this must be a dream come true for the member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head. Their partnership enables the Leader of the Greens to make his continued promises that are irrelevant, to his heart’s content. So why in the name of all that is good should British Columbians expect the NDP to pull an about-face and give them a clear yes-or-no question to vote on?

Again, the member for Langford–Juan de Fuca, has broken his promise on ride-sharing, 2017. He’s broken his promise on $10-a-day daycare. Now he’s begging the federal government to bail him out. Broken promise, seriously. He has broken his promise on the $400 renters rebate. The broken promises continue to pile up with this government. The member for Langford–Juan de Fuca obviously does not understand, along with a few others in this House, that there is absolutely no honour in men who cannot honour their word — another teaching from my dad.

His bromance partner from Oak Bay–Gordon Head is no better. I quote from the Canadian Press, May 18, ’17: “Our position has been that we would bring in proportional representation without a referendum,” but we would be open to discussing a referendum afterwards. From Global News, May 10, ’17, from that member: “In our platform, we said we would introduce proportional representation, and if we were to have a referendum, it would be after” that. Say one thing; do another — from both sides. Broken promises on both sides. There is no greater fraud in politics than a promise not kept.

But these haphazardly broken promises are what is driving this accidental government in their desperate and self-deserving quest to hold on to power through Bill 6. Imagine, if you can, a government where the often-changing whims of the smallest party can change the lives of millions overnight. Well, that’s exactly what we have in this NDP-Green supply agreement. Again, the small Green tail continues to wag the bloated orange dog. Can you say “tyranny of the majority”? That’s exactly what PR under Bill 6 represents.

This begs the question: is PR what the NDP actually wants? Or is it just a way to placate their new Green masters? In my humble opinion, it is the latter. In this NDP proposed system of endless minority governments, how can any voter expect them to follow through as they go from backroom deal to backroom deal? They are in denial, as they refuse to look at the benchmarks from other countries across this globe that have received a big F on proportional representation.

I’d like to talk a little bit about some of those benchmarks because we actually look to benchmarks. In Belgium, PR gives voters nothing more than instability. It took 589 days for voters to get a government, from 2010 to 2011, after parties were unable to agree on a coalition. It took six parties almost two years to form a coalition that only lasted one year.

Italy has had as many Prime Ministers since the end of World War II as Canada has had in its entire history. There are 28 parties forming six separate alliances, and, if you form government, you have an average of 21 months to watch your friends and partners force you to break your promises. Sound promising and democratic? I don’t think so.

In Israel, in relation to proportional representation, one of their former national security advisers spoke to the effectiveness of PR. “Under PR, designing policy in Israel is like writing poetry while standing on a ball.” Sound promising? I don’t think so.

In Germany, the Free Democratic Party has held the balance of power for the last 45 years, since 1949. As a matter of fact, Germany’s political wheels just completely fell off last week. They’re looking at another election. Doesn’t work in Germany.

PR in B.C.? Well, you might as well give the professor from Oak Bay–Gordon Head permanent tenure at the cabinet table. As much as we know that the same member would like to play kingmaker forever, this does not result in stable government. And it won’t help British Columbians.

Source: BC Hansard (Draft transcript)

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About Mel Rothenburger (6184 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

7 Comments on IN THE LEDGE – NDP govt stacking the deck against First Past the Post

  1. And this folks, is the BC Liberals running scared because under a proportional system, they will no longer be able to manipulate the system so that they can be dictators, and service their corporate masters.

  2. Ken McClelland // November 26, 2017 at 3:53 PM // Reply

    – not many of those countries I would choose to live in.

    – WE did not put this government in power, they put themselves there, they were not elected.

    – If you choose to lump the Green vote with NDP and Liberal and compare, as Gisela did, more people voted Lib/Green than NDP/Green as far as I know.

  3. Richard Habgood // November 26, 2017 at 3:25 PM // Reply

    Accidental Government?

    FPTP creates a totally different meaning for the word ‘ democracy ‘. No more is it ‘ rule by the majority of the people ‘ , Winning ‘ seats ‘ at the riding level is the endgame in a FPTP. That’s the reason why half are discarded, they no longer ‘ count ‘.

    In PR ‘ votes ‘ are also counted Provincially, which means every vote gets counted and if a party receives 20% of the vote they are awarded 20% of the seats. Fair, rational and democratic.

    Two totally different voting systems.

    Governments that are elected using PR govern as a true majority. The combined NDP and Green vote total was well over 50%.

    Rothenburger sees the NDP and Green coalition as an ‘ ACCIDENTAL GOVERNMENT ‘. Since when has a government, coalition or otherwise, which receives well over 50% of the vote, considered ‘ ACCIDENTAL ‘?

    The fight begins for the power to rule this Province. I do thank Rothenburger for this opportunity to express my viewpoint.

    • David Johnson // November 27, 2017 at 4:40 AM // Reply

      You do realise that Mr. Rothenburger is not the one who said or wrote what is above, but Doug Clovechok, Liberal MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke?

  4. Imagine what some of these countries would be like under FPTP. We would still be seeing “bunga bunga” parties in Berlusconi’s Italy. Without PR in Germany, it is conceivable a hateful (and hate-filled) group could get a hold of a main-stream party (Think of AfD infiltrating the CSU/CDU; Trump and the GOP south of the border. No thanks. I want my vote to count and with PR it will.

  5. Absolutely, you should have a column, David ;-). Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ll just add that the Liberals are in a lather about the possibility that a ranked ballot might be used to choose a system precisely because they know that the only way FPTP comes out on top is if the other choices split the vote. This is exactly what they have traditionally done to get so-called “majority” governments with less than half of voter support — works for them! Yet the Liberals also use a ranked ballot to choose their leader — a bit hypocritical, no? Ranked ballots work well when you’re looking for a single answer (or a single leader) from a variety of options. Therefore, it’s the perfect choice for this type of a referendum if more than one option is to be on the menu, as I hope it will be. British Columbians should have choice in this referendum, just as they should have choice at election time.

  6. David Johnson // November 26, 2017 at 2:46 AM // Reply

    What a massively overwritten, bloated bunch of politically rhetorical BS.

    I’ll answer the FPTP and PR issue in a sec, but to be fair I did read (nee; scanned) through the rest of the pointless daycare, bromance, wagging bloated orange dog meanderings, to realise the writer was anything but a ‘humble’ opinionator. *sigh* … moving on.

    – His turning the rhetoric towards a multiple choice of FPTP or various systems of PR as ‘stacking the deck’, is an attempt to redirect from the obvious. Providing an intelligent citizenry with various options to research and consider is … oh I donno … democracy. Only a complete idiot would try to twist multiple options into a ‘stacked deck’. I am left to ask, Is there another form of FPTP that should be added to unstack such a deck?

    – He can not accept that FPTP would be not the first, second or third ranked choice, because he is not interested in the opinions of the people of BC … as it does not suit ‘the norm’. FPTP is not a preferred option as you say, because of a ranked ballot … its not preferred because very few people actually want it. Note the difference.

    What he is saying is that the deck is stacked against the political norm that pays his cheque, as beyond FPTP, he probably would be unemployed. I now realise he is writing from the perspective enjoyed by the unemployed, ie; desperate. Moving on.

    – FPTP has NOT served Canadians or BC’rs well for 150 years, only politicians feel it has served us well. Note the dichotomy. It has knowingly failed for decades as majorities have overridden the electorates popular vote, and they misunderstand that as being Legislature seats equals preference. It has not meant that for a long time. FPTP has served us well? … more crickets.

    – side note: this is no ‘accidental government’. Like it or not, this is the govt WE put in power. Your job is not to insult us, but do the job we give you, regardless of what that looks like. Please do not stop at just whining that the other guys are doing it all wrong, tell us how you are negotiating with the govt to make legislation better … crickets are getting noisy.

    – endless minority governments IS NOT A BAD THING, its only a bad thing for you. It means politicians have to let go of the concept of lame duck governance, and actually work together to pass anything. Governance is not supposed to be easy but it has become easy here, as if its not a majority … you just ‘send em back to the polls till they get it right’.
    Clovechok; Research the word .. negotiate. Thats n-e-g-o-t … google would have finished it by now, hit enter.

    – Regarding other countries, he very carefully cherry-picked 4 countries that have had hardships making it work, and laughingly picks on Germany due to recent developments (like this week), even though Germany’s PR system has worked well since the 2nd world war. That shows the writer is skimming the news for rhetorical examples that suit his argument.

    – And yes, the ‘professor from Oak Bay–Gordon Head’ might just get a permanent tenure at the cabinet table. That’s not because of PR, but because BC voters have had enough of the status quo, and the Liberals (and the NDP) will lose seats because of that, and in the short term the Greens will benefit. That is the writers fault, and his ilk, not PR. Blaming a voting system for your own professions failures is misrepresentation at best and at worst … fraud.

    FINAL NOTE: he does not bring up the countries that use one form or another of proportional representation, always with various levels of success and challenges, but … nothing is perfect, but a vast majority of them say its generally positive. Just look at the stack.

    I’ll … just leave this here:

    Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bénin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, BurkinaFaso, Burundi, Cambodia, CapeVerde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cypru, Czech Republic , Denmark, Dominican Republic, East Timor, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg , Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Serbia, Sint Maarten, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka , Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay.

    maybe I should have a column eh Mel?

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