The Fair Vote ad in Friday’s Kamloops This Week is misleading. The ad is endorsed by a half dozen local leaders, some on city council (I have my own opinion on what is appropriate for elected officials to be endorsing, but that’s a topic for another post). They list five reasons why they support Proportional Representation:
1) “Local MLAs elected by voters – no party appointees.” This one is the most blatantly misleading. Yes, there will be local MLAs, but the current ridings we now have will be combined with one to as many as four others into mega ridings, to reduce the number of elected officials to make room for the appointed MLAs which make up the “proportional” part of all this. The elected MLAs would be responsible for far larger ridings than they currently are and a large number of unelected MLAs would only be responsible to their party’s philosophies.
2) “40% of the votes = 40% of the seats, that’s fair!” Yes, PR makes for more MLA’s representing more parties, but they DO NOT MAKE UP GOVERNMENT. It takes 51% of the seats to have a majority in the house to form government now, and that fact will not change under PR. There will still be a large number of MLAs, up to 49%, sitting on the outside looking in, not having any say in the operation of government. As long as we maintain a Party based system there will never be true proportional representation.
3) “Cooperation between parties makes for better decisions.” This is a simple value statement that is as applicable under our current system as it is under PR. Might as well just state “I like sunny days better than rainy days.”
4) “Better economic, social & environmental outcomes.” Is the implication here that PR promises this? Totally unmeasurable.
5) “Higher voter turnout & voter satisfaction.” Again, a broad statement that voices a HOPE, not a FACT. I’d argue that once I learned that the party that I voted for would be hobbled by deals made to manufacture coalition governments I’d probably shut down in the long run as a voter because my goals wouldn’t be represented.
I’m all for a clear and open discussion on the Prop Rep issue, but I think there is too much extreme rhetoric on both sides. Just like I don’t believe that Prop Rep will give rise to the next Hitler in B.C. I also don’t believe that it will create a Utopian society where MLAs hold hands and make decisions based on the “common good”. As long as there are parties involved there will be partisan politicians – period. To claim otherwise is simply a lie.