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REFERENDUM – 87 ridings represent 100 per cent of the power under FPTP

Comments by MLA Mike Morris (Liberal, Prince George-Mackenzie) in the B.C. Legislature on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 during debate on on proportional representation.

M. Morris: The member who just finished speaking, obviously, isn’t fully informed on what proportional representation means and the different methods of voting that we have in this province. I go back to….

The system that we have today recognizes the equality of voting, which the courts have said many times over the years is one of the basic, fundamental parts of our democratic rights here in Canada.

Mike Morris, MLA

The balance in our electoral districts has been built in right from the beginning.

It goes back to 1867, where the equality of voting power was paramount, and still is today, in our democratic system. We have 87 ridings in the province. The population was divided into those 87…. The 87 ridings were divided into the population of British Columbia to come up with equality based on population.

In addition to that, they also built in equality pertaining to the geographical and regional differences that we have in this province and right across the country, and those are the fundamental parts of voting equality and the equality of voting power in British Columbia — representation by population, with a plus or minus 25 percent deviation based on geographical and regional differences.

Every citizen in Canada, under the Charter, has a right to participate in the electoral process. They have the chance to sit down and listen to every candidate who espouses whatever the platform is that they’re representing. They talk about the policies that they represent, and through that process, the citizens within that electoral area, within one of the 87 ridings that we have, get an opportunity to see the candidates — whether they’re Green, NDP, B.C. Liberal or whatever other party might be running at the time. They get a chance to see the strength of character of that individual. They get a chance to see whether or not that individual will have the strength of voice to represent that area, that electoral district in this House.

They also get a chance to evaluate the policies and the platform that that individual may be representing on behalf of their party. Through that, the day of the vote comes. The people within that electoral district will vote based on the individual and how well he or she represented the policies, the platform and the strength of character required, and based upon that, we will have 87 results coming from these separate ridings within the province here. Those are the true results of the people being represented in this province, in this House.

To go about changing the results of the election, which is what proportional representation does, by nullifying all of the will of the people, the votes that the people said, and applying a mathematical formula at the end of the day to determine what the popular vote may have been — what that does is virtually eliminate and nullify the great work that has been done to try to develop equal representation within the ridings right across the province.

By applying that mathematical formula, it will provide for urban centres — large, urban centres with a large number of voters — to influence what’s happening within the rural areas of the province.

Under our current constitution and our current first-past-the-post system, we have MLAs, we have opposition members and we have independents, as we’ve had sitting in the House before. That equals 100 percent of the power of the electoral system in this province. There is no imbalance there.

To simply say that 40 percent of the vote equals 100 percent of the power is misdescribing the situation. We have people duly elected within the 87 electoral districts in the province. They represent the people within those provinces. The popular vote has nothing to do with the overall democracy that we have in the province, where the individual people are elected in their districts. By applying that mathematical formula, at the end of the day, it nullifies it.

Source: BC Hansard

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About Mel Rothenburger (6186 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.

5 Comments on REFERENDUM – 87 ridings represent 100 per cent of the power under FPTP

  1. When a government (old ,Socred, new Liberal) was chosen by only 38% of voters, we are denied democracy.

  2. Ian M MacKenzie // November 6, 2018 at 10:50 AM // Reply

    Mr. Morris’ historical comments and interpretations are of great interest. Whether they meet the basic criterion of representative democracy today is highly questionable. When we consider that B.C.’s population in 1871, when our province joined Canada, was estimated at 40,000 people, whereas last year it had reached 4.8 million (more than 100 times as many) with the same distribution of population in almost identical ridings is a ringing endorsement to change the system. The original figures might have satisfied the two party system at that time, but certainly doesn’t satisfy the wishes of a much larger variety ov immigrants since then, leading to more than two parties.

    Representative democracy requires that every vote be equal in value which can only now be gained through proportional representation. His interpretation avoids this glaring fact. Simplicity does not outweigh democracy.

  3. -Have you attempted to get this very clear article about FPTP out there, widely distributed for reading? You should: it is quite literally the most sound way of concluding just where and why BC uses this voting process…and why it should remain in place. !

  4. Mr. Morris misses the point. Yes, we have duly elected people in 87 districts. But if you look at who ends up forming gov’t and making all the decisions, its the party that got 40 – 50 percent of the popular vote. So more than half the population has effectively no representation at the decision table. This is the problem with the FPTP system.

    • Actually Sean, proportional representation does not mean everyone gets to be represented in the decision making…only the ones forming majority are. Afterwards is no different than the present model.

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