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)