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LETTER – Milobar and Stone don’t represent all perspectives in our ridings

(Image: Elections BC)

MLAs Milobar and Stone have been extremely vocal on the Pro Rep issue – even though they represent only a portion of local voters. We couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of the impossibility of having only one party to represent the diverse perspectives in this riding.

I’ve been hearing from people who are incensed that the MLAs are being so partisan on this issue, at the same time as they insist that they can adequately represent all of us. Even the Speaker of the Legislature recently agreed that the hyper-partisan Town Hall events they’ve been holding should not be funded by our taxpayer dollars. (By the way, what are the MLAs going to do about that? I’m hearing crickets, so far.)

By telling us how to vote in this referendum, our MLAs are putting their own paycheques ahead of a more substantive discussion of the pros and cons of the options. Milobar and Stone were both elected with about 50 per cent of the vote, which was the average for the entire crop of Liberal MLAs in the interior. The party, however, managed to sweep all the ridings in the central interior with this 50 per cent of popular support.

Under PR, winning 50 per cent of the votes in a region would earn their party 50 per cent of the seats. You can see how this issue is very personal for our MLAs. No wonder they’ve been out talking to citizens more than ever before, choosing to repeat ridiculous stories about local MLAs disappearing, parties appointing surprise MLAs after the election, and conjuring images of Nazis popping out from behind every hedge. The fact is, keeping both of their jobs with only 50 per cent voter support depends on us keeping First Past the Post.

I encourage people to get their information about this referendum from sources which are a teensy bit less self-interested than our MLAs. Try Elections BC, for starters. To read what experts say on the claims being made by either side, go to prorepfactcheck.ca.

For more depth, check out the citizens’ organization which is advocating pro rep: www.fairvote.ca. We take an evidence-based approach — something which our opponents have unfortunately decided against. This whole campaign has demonstrated that when you’ve got no evidence in your favour, fearmongering is often your best choice.

B.C. is being offered a choice to try the system that most of the developed world uses, including nine of the top-performing economies in the OECD. If we don’t like it, we can switch back after two elections. The details still to be decided will not substantially affect the outcomes under any of the three proposed systems – any way you slice it, we will get more of what we actually voted for.

The sky didn’t fall in New Zealand after they made the switch to pro rep. As a matter of fact, more voters supported keeping it in the 2011 “confirmation referendum” than had initially voted for it. If Pro Rep were as bad as Milobar and Stone paint it to be, why would New Zealanders be so keen to keep it?

In each of the three major western democracies still using first-past-the-post (yes, Canada, the U.S., and parts of the UK are the only ones), there is a huge citizen movement for reform. In countries using Pro Rep, there is no comparable support for a shift to first-past-the-post. Does this not speak volumes?

I hope that my fellow Kamloopsians will choose to try something new — a system which has been recommended by each and every assembly of our peers. We deserve to have a government that represents the diversity among voters and brings different perspectives to the table.

No, Peter, it won’t be all sunshine and roses — it’s a voting system, not a magic wand. But unlike now, at least the government will speak for a true majority of voters, almost all of us will have at least one MLA who shares our worldview, and B.C. politics won’t smell quite as bad.

My ballot is in the mail – I hope yours is too.

GISELA RUCKERT
Team Leader, Fair Vote Kamloops
President, Fair Vote Canada BC

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About Mel Rothenburger (6243 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.

8 Comments on LETTER – Milobar and Stone don’t represent all perspectives in our ridings

  1. Very eloquently put Gisela… You summarized the two sides brilliantly in the following:

    “We take an evidence-based approach — something which our opponents have unfortunately decided against. This whole campaign has demonstrated that when you’ve got no evidence in your favour, fear mongering is often your best choice.”

    I’m so tired of this bullying, adversarial system we currently have. I’m looking for a system that will elect more civilized and evidence-based parties who actually care for their citizens and the environment and who are willing to make evidence-based changes that work for the greatest good of the whole – not just their deep-pocketed cronies.

    I’ve sent my YES for PR Ballot in. I hope others will also.

  2. Great article Gisela! I hope the Liberal MLAs that are using our tax dollars to go around spreading lies about Pro Rep pay a huge price next election. People do not like being lied to, which is one of the main reasons we need to put an end to the partisan politics of First Past the Post and adopt Proportional Referendum like so many other countries are doing. I went to one of their ‘MLA Meetings’ and one of their power point slides stated “More expensive gov’t – $13 Billion/year more spending in BC”. These MLAs were quoting an article published by the Fraser Institute, which is a group that is funded by lobbyist billionaires like the Koch Brothers. In fact, Pro Rep countries tend to perform better on a GDP per capita basis and tend to have lower dept levels. This is because Pro Rep countries develop more responsible governance focused on citizens not on lobbyists. The leaders of the Green, NDP and even BC Conservative Party support Pro Rep, but the Liberal Leader and our two local MLAs fear it will mean an end to all the power with 40% of the vote. Lets take back our democracy!

  3. Lorraine Winter // November 18, 2018 at 12:16 AM // Reply

    My YES vote is in the mail.

  4. There are no credible studies suggesting we stay with FPTP. The only one I am aware of is from the Fraser Institute, an organization funded by the US-based Koch brothers; even Liberal friends sneer at that report. It’s no wonder I’ve seen social media posts referring to the “Fiberal Party”; when you can’t fight facts with facts, resorting to fabrication and manipulation are your only options. Is the switch going to be simple and easy? No. Nothing worth doing comes without hard work, cooperation, compromise, and dedication to the common good. Follow the money and you’ll understand the opposition to PR.

  5. Why is everybody so wrapped up in this referendum. Did you lose last time? Exercise your your opinions with a party for support of a platform and then exercise your franchise at election time and then except the results. With the current trend of number of referendum returned votes you could see the direction voting determined by 10% of the province’s population. At general election with 50% turnout the winners might have 26 % of the vote. Those who don’t vote should be counted as votes for the winning side then that might encourage the naysayers to vote next time. If you want something work for the cause and except the results until you get to choose next time.

  6. My no vote is also in the mail.

  7. Ian MacKenzie // November 17, 2018 at 7:27 PM // Reply

    Cogent and pointed observations here, not to mention a delightful undertone of irony. A world apart from the ludicrous rhetoric they’ve been copying from their leader. Peter’s “sunshine and roses” isn’t far from Wilkinson’s “stacked deck in a rigged game” (or is it the reverse?)

  8. Well one thing for sure…you are way, way more articulate than both of them professional politicians, Gisela.
    And so you know, my ballot has been mailed also.

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