LETTER – Here are five reasons why prop rep advertisement is misleading

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

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.


About Mel Rothenburger (7618 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.

9 Comments on LETTER – Here are five reasons why prop rep advertisement is misleading

  1. Let’s look at the examples that Mr. Pejril has given of the “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”.” The NO side in this campaign has indeed been paying for a lot of ads that feature goose-stepping Nazis, and their spokespeople have indeed been bringing up the spectre of Nazi being elected in BC. The other side has not been promising utopia (it’s an electoral system, not a magic wand), and has been pumping the peer-reviewed and published academic research, which indeed shows that countries using pro rep tend to get better outcomes

  2. “As long as there parties involved” you say. Well how about we get rid of all political parties I say.

  3. Kathy McArthur // November 11, 2018 at 9:51 AM // Reply

    Thanks for this article … a good clarification of a confusing challenge … not a lot of good solid information ‘out there’.

    • Granted this is not an easy choice to make, the CBC and other Canadian news sites, including the Armchairmayor News have had ample articles, videos, op-pieces, etc on this subject.

  4. Don Drysdale // November 11, 2018 at 8:59 AM // Reply

    Well said, you made common sense out of something that nobody seems able to explain or comprehend, least of all a self serving politician.

    • The politicians are the ones who benefit from our current system. In our region, one party won all the seats with 50% of the vote. Under PR, 50% of the seats who go to the other parties. You can see why this in inconvenient for our MLAs.

  5. Dawne Taylor // November 11, 2018 at 8:45 AM // Reply

    You may not agree with Pro Rep Mel, but at least the Pro Rep side doesn’t lie like the No Side. The TV ads from the No side saying that local constituency offices will be closed under Pro Rep is fear mongering and a lie So too are the references to electing Nazis under Pro Rep. It’s too bad the debate has been taken over by the political parties, when the topic is about the fairest kind of electoral system regardless of party affiliation. If Conservatives like Andrew Coyne and Hugh Segal support Pro Rep, and even Christy Clark has spoken in favour of it, then politicizing the debate between between the current BC Liberals and NDPs is simply wrong.

  6. This letter is also pretty misleading – in fact, I would say the pot is calling the kettle black.

    1. Under Dual Member, there are no appointees – that is my favorite system. I like that it was custom made in Canada to address our population density challenges specifically.

    However, even if we end up with MMP (which seems to be the system that this writer is referring to) or RU none of the parties support closed lists, so there should not be any appointees that aren’t on the ballot and elected.

    Truth be told – under all the systems the candidates are chosen by the parties. This includes FPP – if you aren’t a party member or leader you don’t really get to choose your representative – especially in a “safe seat” area like Kamloops.

    2. 51% of the SEATS does not equal 51% of the vote. Less than 50% of the vote should not create a majority government in my opinion. I am not really sure what is misleading about the ad from this perspective.

    3. 4. and 5 are all based on research conducted by experts who study these systems. I don’t have time to hunt references out for you, but here is an easy list from the pro prorep side so you can see what they are using as the basis of their claims:

    I think conversation on this topic is super important – but we have to start from a place of truth, not conjecture and opinion.

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