As you know, our BC government has initiated a referendum for this coming autumn to decide if we want our province to continue choosing our MLAs by the current voting system, known as First Past the Post (FPTP), or if we want to change to a Proportional Representation (PR) system of voting.
In our current FPTP system, the candidate in a riding with the most votes becomes the MLA for that riding whether s/he received a majority of the votes or not. If we had a two party system this would work (sort of) because one candidate would always receive more than 50 per cent of the vote. However, as you know, BC has many political parties. This means that the winning candidate may have significantly less than half of the vote. This aberration often leads to majority governments that the majority of voters did not vote for.
This fall we have an opportunity to change that — if the majority of British Columbians vote for PR.
If we vote for a PR voting system, seats in the BC Legislature will be awarded in direct proportion to the number of votes a party actually receives. Parties that receive fewer votes will still have representation in the Legislature albeit less than a party that received more votes, but the party with the most votes cannot run roughshod over the wishes of the majority if they did not receive a majority of the vote in the election.
A PR system would mean you can vote for the candidate whose platform you believe in and be reasonably sure that your ideas will have at least some meaningful representation in the legislature. It does mean that single-party majority governments will be a lot less likely, but don’t we send our MLAs to Victoria to make the best decisions for ALL British Columbians not just their own party? A PR system would mean that our MLAs would have to work together to select the best ideas for the majority of British Columbians.
As you may also know, there is a spectrum of possible PR voting systems that will produce more or less proportional representation in the BC Legislature. I’m not pushing one over another here because all of them will do a better job of representing the people’s wishes in the BC Legislature than FPTP. I do think it is time for us to leave our archaic FPTP voting system behind in favour of some version of PR that reflects our multi-party society fairly.
You can learn more about various popular voting systems at: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/howwevote/
A Proportional Representation informational meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on May 9 at the Legion in Hope.
Come out and learn about PR. Ask questions.