Referendum before us a question of values

In a letter published Nov. 2, the writer trots out the usual arguments of the no-side in the referendum on how we vote; arguments which have been proven to be essentially false, or at best confuse the question and miss the point.

Under each of the proposed systems, every riding will continue to directly elect MLAs that will represent them. The notion that a region will have it’s MLA “foisted upon them” is simply false. Depending on the system we choose a region may directly elect more than one MLA, or may have an additional MLA shared with neighbouring ridings to better reflect the diversity of opinions held there. (Clearly we hold a diversity of opinions, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this debate.) But in no scenario would we lose our local MLA.

Nor will small niche parties recieve more power than they deserve. In fact it is only under Proportional Representation that they, and every party for that matter, will receive exactly as much power as they deserve. That is precisely the point of PR. If a small party receives eight per cent of the vote across B.C., that means that over 150,000 voters support that point of view and they deserve the seven-or-so seats they would receive, representing the regions where they had the strongest support.

The writer then acknowledges “short times in our past when we were government by parties with less than 50% of the popular vote.” “Short times” is an impressive euphemism when in fact every government in B.C. since 1952, with the lone exception of 2001-2005 has formed a majority of the legislature despite more than half of all voters choosing someone else. (And in 2001, our current voting system reduced 42 per cent of voters who didn’t support the government to a measily two opposition MLAs)

The referendum before us is a question of values: do we believe that every British Columbian who casts a ballot should be in some small way reflected in our government? Or, do we feel our present voting system, with it’s undeniable flaws, is still the best form of democracy we can manage? Obviously, I’m voting for change and for Proportional Representation and hope others do too. But if they don’t, I will absolutely respect that so long it is based on truth and values, not fear and deception.

Lucas Schuller

Campbell River

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