Since the Armchair Mayor is once again running his favourite column against PR, I thought I’d humour him and stick with the food analogy.
Let’s say both Mel and I are in the restaurant business. We both offer a full menu. At Chez Mel, waiters calculate the most common dish ordered at each table and serve one giant vat of that dish to everyone at the table, regardless of whether individual guests at the table are allergic to it or not.
Approximately 50 per cent of the diners are happy, because they got what they ordered. Everyone else is told to suck it up, and maybe try to bring a few more like-minded friends to the restaurant with them next time to improve their chances of getting the dish they want.
At Gisela’s Pro Rep Diner, food is served in smaller dishes, which allows us to serve a variety of choices at each table. Same number of portions, but almost everyone gets what they ordered.
Let’s let the public decide which restaurant they prefer.
Analysis shows that under First Past the Post, only about 50 per cent of voters (provincially and nationally) get what they ordered. Under a proportional system, the number of satisfied customers who get what they ordered is upwards of 90%. Same number of MLAs overall, just arranged differently. And a Legislature that more accurately reflects the views of the electorate.
All three of the proposed systems would provide proportional outcomes, where vote shares translate fairly into seat shares in the Legislature. “Majority” governments would have to earn more than 50% voter support or cooperate with other parties. All three systems would offer voters a choice of representatives to turn to while retaining accountability to specific geographic areas; all would ensure no reduction in the number of MLAs from any particular region; all would maintain approximately the same total number of MLAs.
All three systems would keep the voting process relatively simple from the voters’ perspective while making it easier to understand the election results. Every region would likely elect MLAs to both government and opposition, leaving no part of the province out in the cold, as we here in Kamloops find ourselves now.
And like our restaurant story, all three models would see far more than the current 50 per cent of voters elect an MLA whose views align with their own. In summary, any of the three proportional choices on the ballot would represent a significant improvement over our current first-past-the-post.
It’s no wonder that most of the world now uses pro rep, and that citizens of countries that have tried Pro Rep have never voted to go back to First Past the Post. Why not get what you ordered?