GUEST COLUMN – Thanks, but no thanks to challenge issued on prop rep

(Image: Fair Vote Kamloops)

This guest column is a response to an Open Letter from the Armchair Mayor, published Oct. 11, 2018, challenging Fair Vote Kamloops to publish articles on its Facebook page that are in support of First Past the Post.

Fair Vote Kamloops

Dear Mel,

Thanks for the shout out and the challenge. Just for fun, let’s play a game as I respond. I’ll pretend I’m an MLA elected under FPTP, and you’ll be my constituent. You’ve asked me to do something (support a specific bill in the Legislature, for example), but my party has a different take on the issue than you do. So I’m going explain to you why I’m going to vote with my party rather than do what you’re asking. (This scenario will feel distressingly familiar to many voters).

Gisela Ruckert

Thanks for coming into my office today, Mel! Clearly, we have a difference of opinion on this subject. So, while I do understand your concerns and your request for Fair Vote Kamloops to promote posts opposing proportional representation on our Facebook page, I’ll explain why I am not going to do that.

→ We are part of the “Yes” side. We are a grassroots, citizen-led group, 100% funded by folks who have read the research and want to see pro rep implemented. On that note, you may be interested in the Elections BC report released last month which compared the average donations on each side: $141 for us and $959 for them. Here at Fair Vote Kamloops, we’ve taken in a lot of $20 cheques in the past few months, and we are committed to making each one of them count in this very important campaign. (Kind of like votes in a pro rep election, if you get my drift 😉).

→ We are committed to evidence-based, peer-reviewed and published research. There is very little that is coming from the “No” side currently which can be substantiated by anything academic at all. (The Fraser Institute is a think tank with an agenda, not an academic institution). Asking us to promote the fearmongering and misinformation coming from the “No” side is akin to asking the Sierra Club to give equal space to climate deniers. It makes no sense. In fairness, we do send people to other neutral sites where they can confirm what they read on our pages, for example Elections BC’s referendum website.

→ Our opponents are doing an incredible job filling the airwaves with misinformation and targeting individuals on social media with blatant lies. Because ads are shown only to individual Facebook users who might be on the fence, they aren’t found on the public pages of the “No” side, and their dirty work flies largely under the radar (this seems to be the new normal in politics, sadly). We don’t have the ethics or the kind of money it takes to hire those professional manipulators of public opinion.

→ The media landscape is already incredibly skewed to preserving the status quo, and nothing we put out can hold a candle to the reach of our opponents. A three-month media analysis confirmed that few newspapers set out to educate or inform voters on this issue—the vast majority of articles merely advocate for the current system, as do your own columns. Have you printed anything at all on how the three proposed systems work? About how they would provide citizens with a team of MLAs, rather than just one from a party they may not have supported? About how each ballot has room for real names of local candidates, just like now? About how countries using pro rep tend to have better economic, social, and environmental outcomes and more satisfied voters? About the legislation that is being tabled right now to ensure that BC voters can choose to switch back after two elections if we don’t like the new system? We would be happy to collaborate on something educational like that! The fact is, our opponents control the ear of the media (and many of their paycheques as well).

I hope that answers your question regarding your challenge. The forces of “No” do not need nor deserve our help.

It’s truly unfortunate that the quality of the debate has declined to the point where voters don’t know who to trust. Hopefully they consider the source of the information they hear. On the “Yes” side, we have a group of citizens with nothing to gain but a vote that actually serves to elect someone they support.

On the “No” side, we have a hodgepodge of insiders with vested interests who have benefited from the current system. You may not like my characterization of the “No” leaders as “lobbyists, millionaires and Liberals”, Mel, but the shoe fits. The Liberal leader has gone so far as to pledge to do everything possible to see that pro rep isn’t implemented, even if most voters support it in the referendum!  That’s democratic, isn’t it!

Electoral reform is a very personal matter for our interior MLAs. Since their party won 100% of the interior seats with only 50% of the vote, half of them would be out of a job if pro rep were adopted. Voters should let that sink in before taking what they say at face value.

I firmly believe that if we stick with First Past the Post, we will soon end up in the same mess in which our neighbours to the south now find themselves. You could argue that it’s already happening in parts of Canada. We have two provincial governments who were recently elected with far less than 50% support now promising to use the notwithstanding clause to override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Indeed, a lot is riding on this referendum.

So, thanks, Mel, for coming into my constituency office today, to share your perspective. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. Do vote for me next time because, as you know, I work hard to represent ALL of my constituents. Have a great day!

PS: I do hope that you, as the Armchair Mayor, have made the same plea for balanced coverage to the “No” side – I notice they are a bit light on pro-PR content 😉. Actually, I was banned within 10 minutes from an opponent’s page for merely posting an inconvenient fact. Compared to the lively and diverse perspectives shared in our comment threads, the “No” side pages are a veritable desert for dissent.

Gisela Ruckert is President of Fair Vote Canada BC and Team Leader for Fair Vote Kamloops.

About Mel Rothenburger (8956 Articles) 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 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.

11 Comments on GUEST COLUMN – Thanks, but no thanks to challenge issued on prop rep

  1. Megan Ardyche // October 24, 2018 at 5:24 PM // Reply

    Yes, why not give Pro Rep a try? It’s a no-risk guarantee because we can always go back. Ms. Ruckert gives a clear response to why repeating the opponents’ lies and hysteria is not ‘balanced.’ The hysteria of the opponents is approaching the ridiculous – surely even they must be at least a little embarrassed by their extremist views? They keep shouting about how extremists will take over BC politics, but I say those extremists are exactly the ones shouting the loudest that WE MUST NOT IMPROVE OUR DEMOCRACY!!! Why not? What do you have to lose? Oh, that’s right – power and money, money, money. Well, it’s time for VOTERS to matter more than politicians.

  2. Sandra Burkholder // October 18, 2018 at 4:08 PM // Reply

    Great job Gisela…thanks for keeping to the facts, for being passionate and feisty! When we get PR, please do run for office…it won’t matter to me which party you run for, I’ll know my vote will count!

  3. Lorraine Winter // October 18, 2018 at 12:42 PM // Reply

    Thanks Gisela for your clever, biting and well written piece in support of Pro Rep.
    And Mel, thanks for publishing it.
    Why would we not want to give Pro Rep a try? After all, we can switch back after two elections if we don’t like the new system. In the meantime, it would even-out the political choices of every voter in the province. We would have in office the exact mix of who we collectively voted for. It’s so fair.
    Opposition to Pro Rep befounds me. We live in Canada. The likelihood of, as the scare-mongers tell us, that a neo-Nazi/alt right/Golden-Dawn-type party could get a foothold in BC is preposterous. If such a party ever came into existence and stirred up a few votes here and there, well whatever. It won’t get any more seats under Pro Rep than it would with FPTP. Not ever. BCers are better than that.
    We live in probably the best place in the world. We know it and many of us want our vote to count — be it NDP, Liberal or Green.

  4. Shelley Falk Ouellette // October 18, 2018 at 12:07 PM // Reply

    Excellent read. #ImVotingYes to #PR4BC. I have been voting for 41 years, never have I helped elect anyone. I live in a safe BC Liberal/federal conservative seat, my vote has never counted. I have never had my views represented. I can’t wait to vote for someone who will represent my values.

  5. Connie Foss More // October 18, 2018 at 10:35 AM // Reply

    Well done!

  6. Ron Robinson // October 18, 2018 at 9:40 AM // Reply

    I think the analysis is quite accurate. The Pro Rep support comes from numerous local ‘grass roots’ groups, not lobbyists based in the lower mainland. That is a significant difference.

  7. A bit of a head scratcher…you claim to work HARD for all your constituents but you are taking multiple little $ 20 bribes from some of them…don’t get me wrong I am not “buying” the other side fearmongering advertising but maybe the populace is not really ready?

  8. Ian M MacKenzie // October 17, 2018 at 4:33 PM // Reply

    Love the creativity, Gisela. I must admit that when I read Mel’s challenge last week some time I scratched my head for a while wondering what had got into the lad. But after reading it a second time just to find the answer I gave up and had to assume he’d had one too many the night before. So, rather than answer such a purposeless and bizarre challenge I just chucked it aside and forgot about it until reading your make believe reply. Gotta give him credit. At least he published it, which is more than most media are doing in support of Pro rep. When we win this one it won’t be because of their underwhelming but consistent editorial policies.. Keep up the good work, lass.

  9. Excellent piece Gisela, excellent. I find that most writers that are against ProRep have been sounding quite hysterical for a while now, and I truly wonder just what they are scared of.

  10. Elaine Sedgman // October 17, 2018 at 4:03 PM // Reply

    thanks Gisela, I would vote for you anytime!

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