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LETTER – British Columbians deserve a government that works for all of us

(Image: Fair Vote Kamloops)

When you were a true mayor I thought your position on most issues was a fairly reasoned one. But now that you’ve relaxed in your armchair you’ve got me a bit confused.

For example, you quote opposition leader Wilkinson’s caricature of the report as “massively biased in a stacked deck in a rigged game”. While the quotation demonstrates admirable Churchillian variety in saying the same thing three ways (a typical politician’s response!), it is quite ironic, since the BC Liberals and their predecessors have been using a stacked deck for decades to win elections with the support of only a minority of voters.

I, on the contrary, am highly impressed by the way Eby incorporated suggestions from almost 92,000 respondents on the subject of electoral reform change into his recommendations. He clearly heard our concerns regarding the need to maintain the power of the regions, the need to keep out fringe parties, and the lack of appetite for a significant increase in the number of MLAs. These have been all been addressed via specific guarantees.

How could you read Mr. Eby’s report and get from it “no all-party committee, and no Legislative debate”? If his recommendations are followed a number of decisions not yet resolved in the report will be settled through a legislative all-party committee which will surely involve a great deal of debating!

With respect to your concern about the lack of maps, is it not of greater importance that MLAs first represent those within their boundaries, rather than arguing about the specific location of that boundary? Our Legislature is populated by a slew of politicians who were elected by far less than a majority of their constituents. If voters choose proportional representation, then it will be the job of Elections BC, a neutral body, to determine riding boundaries. I dare say that if it comes down to a choice, most people would choose to be represented by an MLA who aligns with their political views over one that comes from an entirely unappealing political party, yet happens to represent their very specific geographic area. Happily, this is not a choice that voters will have to make, given that all the proposed systems maintain strong geographic ties between MLAs and voters.

We two, Mel, have been allowed to vote only FPTP throughout our lifetimes, but I have always thought you, like me, believed in democracy despite the obvious shortcomings of our FPTP system which beggars fairness in giving complete control to a party holding only 40% of the votes.

Each of the three options suggested by A-G Eby would provide proportional results, ensuring politicians and parties earn the power they wield. Because proportional representation clearly produces far superior democratic results than does FPTP it is clearly an “electoral REFORM” and democracy will certainly be improved by its implementation.

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the connection between Representative Democracy and Proportional Representation as both sharing the same goals and states that only if an assembly represents the full diversity of opinion within a country or constituency can its decisions be regarded as legitimate. The same view, held even more succinctly, “The current ‘first-past-the-post’ system is undemocratic. On that ground alone, it needs to be replaced.” – The Economist (1991 Editorial).

Our current system unnecessarily divides us into winners and losers. Why should half of us be losers every election, when most other countries in the world use systems which ensure that 95% of voters see their choice reflected in the outcome? British Columbians deserve a government that works for ALL of us, rather than a select few. Proportional representation ensures that more of us get what we voted for. In a democracy, how is that not a good thing?

IAN MacKENZIE
Kamloops

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About Mel Rothenburger (6246 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.

8 Comments on LETTER – British Columbians deserve a government that works for all of us

  1. Pierre, representing everyone is especially tricky when your party has all the power. Why would you bother appeasing anyone but your side if there’s no need to? Under Proportional Representation governments, cooperation and collaboration are two common features. In order to get something passed, there will most likely be compromise between a couple or three parties. A bit like planning a summer vacation, do you just ram your dream vacation down your family’s throat, or do you discuss it together and come up with something that suits ‘the whole fam damily’. I’m hoping the latter.

  2. I would like the idea of PR, mainly because is seems more fair than FPTP, the only objection I have to it is in the three styles that we are given to select from, I do NOT like the idea of party selection of the extra candidates, once again the people are not selecting the (some of the) winner, how can this be improved, if there were several names to select from we would all be completely aware of where our vote goes BUT if we elect one from each riding and the Parties then select the remainder from party stalwards, we are essentially purchasing a pig in a poke, if I am wrong about this please elucidate, thanks. And NO it doesn’t make a two food long ballot, each riding gets to select only from those running in that riding.

  3. There are reams of comparative studies on electoral systems. Proportional representation is no magic bullet, but the outcomes from countries using it sure are superior on a huge variety of indicators. A government that works for ALL of us might be an aspiration, but starting with a government that is actually elected by MOST of us is a step in the right direction from where we are now. Ontario just demonstrated again the propensity of First Past the Post to give 100% control to a party that can barely muster 40% of the vote. Enough. A party’s share of seats should be in alignment with its share of the vote.

  4. David Johnson // June 7, 2018 at 4:49 PM // Reply

    Agree completely, but more than that it was written articulately and eloquently, and you never know … maybe Mel read it and thought “darn … got me there”.

  5. Grouchy 1 // June 7, 2018 at 8:42 AM // Reply

    Great letter, and I agree with the writers POV completely. We need change, and the sooner the better.

  6. A government that works for us all is, in my opinion, the biggest fallacy there is.
    People’s pettiness, personal and philosophical grudges and economic interests infect and effect decisions making throughout our society, including at a governmental level…hence a government, any government will never be able to “work for us all”.
    Besides, one can look at any other country with a form of proportional representation and compare it to Canada or British Columbia…they don’t work any better than we do.
    There will always be groups of people disenchanted no matter what!

    • Grouchy 1 // June 7, 2018 at 8:43 AM // Reply

      Where is your proof Pierre ? That’s a rather broad statement, and you don’t back it up.

      • Where is the proof that proportional representation is “a government for all”?
        No nation is free of issues…I don’t think I need to find you any proof of that, especially taken into a global context.

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