Provincial elections could undergo a dramatic change if a referendum on proportional representation passes next fall. (Black Press files)

LETTER: Proportional representation makes votes count

Fair Vote Canada representative responds to Tom Fletcher column

Re: One political coalition plotting to kill another (B.C. Views column, Dec. 4).

Tom Fletcher writes that the upcoming referendum on first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting is “rigged” because it will use a threshold of 50 per cent plus one. Nonsense.

A simple majority is fair, and is the standard specified in B.C.’s Referendum Act. Fletcher’s objections ring a tad hypocritical when we consider that most MLAs receive less than 50 per cent of the votes in their ridings, and when we realize that parties regularly form “majority” governments with far less than 50 per cent of popular support.

Yet when it comes to switching to a system where more votes actually matter, a true majority of B.C. voters suddenly isn’t good enough for Fletcher. Methinks he doth protest too much.

On the issue of rural representation, Fletcher is dead wrong. Both rural and urban representation will be dramatically improved under proportional representation. Regional differences are exaggerated under FPTP. Current voting patterns show that all the major parties have significant support in all areas of the province: 47 per cent of rural voters supported parties other than the B.C. Liberals this spring, while 54 per cent of urban voters supported parties other than the NDP. Thus, the political priorities of fully half of B.C. voters are essentially ignored by their MLAs.

Proportional representation would honour this diversity of opinion, so all regions would have MLAs from both the B.C. Liberals and the NDP, and quite likely the Greens as well. Regional sweeps by a single party would be a thing of the past. I suspect that this is the real reason Fletcher and his tribe are in a lather: rural voters would still have the same number of MLAs, but they wouldn’t all be the same colour anymore.

In addition, all regions of the province would elect MLAs to both government and opposition under a proportional system. Entire regions of the province wouldn’t be shut out of government decision-making completely, as they are now, with all of their MLAs doomed to irrelevance on opposition benches.

Political parties have long enjoyed “majority” governments while representing only a minority of voters. B.C. has elected only one true majority government since 1956. That was in 2001, when one party won 57 per cent of the vote, which was magically transformed by FPTP into 97 per cent of the seats!

Proportional representation forces parties to earn majority power, or cooperate with others. Either way, the legislation that is passed reflects the will of a true majority of voters, and is much less likely to be reversed immediately after the next election. Studies show that PR countries have better outcomes in terms of voter satisfaction and voter turnout – because people understand that their votes actually matter, regardless of their party preference.

The choice in the upcoming referendum comes down to one basic principle: do we believe that one minority after another should have the right to do as they please, or do we opt for a system which represents voter preferences more fairly? When you compare how the systems work for voters, rather than parties, there’s no comparison—PR wins hand down.

Gisela Ruckert, Fair Vote Canada, Kamloops

BC legislatureProportional representation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cougar euthanized after attacking small dog in Dunsmuir area

Attack happened during middle of the day while family was outside painting house

Sand sculptor creates special eagle head in Qualicum Beach

Kaube fashions work behind Civic Centre

Qualicum Beach seniors hiking group tackles alpine trails

Annual trip involves taking helicopter to remote locations

Parksville asks for help identifying veterans for special banner project

Program to honour veterans whose names are listed on Parksville cenotaph

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

COVID-19 could mean curtains for film and TV extras

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

Laid-off B.C. hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Researchers find cannabis use in pregnancy linked to greater risk of autism

Researchers caution findings only show association — not cause and effect

Small Manitoba town mourning after well-liked teens killed by tornado

Melita residents feeling profound grief after the deaths of Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury

Most Read