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.
Team Leader, Fair Vote Kamloops
President, Fair Vote Canada BC