Current system outshines any form of proportional representation

What is proportional representation? It is a way for a candidate who loses an election to ultimately win a seat.

Sharp political activists given adequate motivation could probably produce a dozen variations of the system in a short time, as I believe they already have. There could be alternative ballots, preferential ballots, “MLA’s at large” floating around the electoral landscape looking for a place to settle. Instant runoff voting, single transferable vote, contingent vote and innumerable others.

Also, a distinct possibility exits that constituents of a riding will have foisted upon them an MLA whom none of them know, who knows little of the issues in the riding, and worst of all, they don’t want. The results of this type of election could be slightly confusing at best and at worst, mildly chaotic, that is, to this observer’s way of thinking. At the point of this writing, Sweden, after a proportional representation election, is into its fifth month trying to form a workable government.

Factions, smaller parties, sometimes one-issue parties, often attain more power than they deserve. Larger parties must accommodate their issues to gain and maintain enough power to govern as a coalition. To my simple way of thinking this is a breeding ground for indecisiveness and inefficient use of government time.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “if you back into your woodstove and burn your butt, you’re going to have to sit on the blisters.” If that turns your crank then I believe you should vote yes for proportional representation. If you want to save our proven electoral system, vote no.

There is a feeling that the proposed benefits of proportional representation seem to aid parties in general, rather than local constituents.

In the past they have been able to find approachable and helpful MLA’s who live in and understand their ridings regardless of which party they belong to.

This may no longer be a privilege and could become largely a thing of the past.

Dave Barrett, the Bennetts, Garde Gardom, even going back to Richard McBride, were all successful politicians in our province. They governed well without a thought to proportional representation, and I am convinced they loved to fight and win. I know there have been short times in our past when we were governed by parties with less than 50 per cent of the popular vote. However, that is a small price to pay for rock solid stability and maintaining the “go for it” winning attitude in our elections.

These politicians of the past are speaking to us through time and we owe it to ourselves to listen. It is not that any of these new systems make no sense, but do they make enough sense for the upheaval they could cause? If I had no other choice I would pick dual seat ridings, where if one seat was first-past-the-post with a majority, then the second, third and fourth would run off with a single transferable vote system.

However, the upside of first-past-the-post, to my way of thinking, outshines any form of proportional representation that this writer has yet to discover.

Finally, we seriously, all of us, need to remember that by definition, democracy is a participatory event. Every election is determined by the voters who show up.

Terence Purden

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