BC LIBERAL MLAs have been holding a slew of events around the interior recently, slamming proportional representation and passionately urging voters to reject pro rep in this fall’s referendum. What are they so afraid of?
A quick look at the 2017 election results is illuminating. In the ridings in the central interior (including the two Kamloops ridings), the BC Libs won 51% of the vote. Due to the miracle of First Past the Post, that translated into 100% of the seats in our area. Had the election been conducted under a proportional system, they would have won just over half the seats. Do you see where this is heading? Houston, we have a problem!
For Mr. Stone and his BC Liberal buddies on the benches of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, this referendum is of more than academic interest. The fact is that several of them would be out of work under a proportional system, since the other half of the seats in our region would have gone to the NDP and the Greens, based on their level of popular support. While Mr. Stone is no doubt acutely aware of this little problem, it’s easy to understand why he might choose not to make this unfortunate fact the focus of his complaints.
Sounding off about the “terribly flawed” process (although others have called it the fairest process B.C. has ever seen) and predicting “disastrous” results for our province (while the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction), is more palatable for our MLAs than moaning loudly about their own impending unemployment.
But this referendum isn’t about Mr. Stone and his BC Liberal colleagues. It’s about voters and improving representation for all of us. Because the ridings would be structured differently, we would have more than one local MLA, meaning almost all of us would actually have an MLA who aligns with our own priorities representing us. Fancy that! No wonder voter satisfaction is higher in countries using pro rep!
An unfortunate side effect of the BC Liberal sweep enabled by First Past the Post was that the entire interior region ended up with no MLAs on the government side of the Legislature. Sadly, this also means that our region can be safely ignored for the next four years. That’s not effective representation for any of us, regardless of which party we support.
Under pro rep, each region of the province would elect MLAs to both government and opposition, since each of the major parties enjoy significant support in all areas of the province. Pro rep would ensure that no areas of the province would be “frozen out” of power, as we find ourselves now.
There are many reasons why pro rep would benefit us here in the interior, but don’t expect Mr. Stone to elaborate on them. As Upton Sinclair pointed out many years ago, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”