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

Just Posted

Fraser Valley Bald eagle festival explodes in popularity, draws thousands to Mission, Harrison Mills

Weather, news, social media contribute to high turnout, says president

Murder victim Jagvir Malhi was not involved in gangs, says IHIT

Investigators say Abbotsford man was ‘associated to those involved’ in conflict

Mission Christmas Bureau needs more gifts for teens

Asking local professionals to rise to the challenge

Second person dies following head-on collision in Surrey

Paige Nagata of Abbotsford was in crash on Nov. 4 that also killed Sarah Dhillon

11 years sought for Burnaby man who killed girlfriend with hammer, burned her body

Manslaughter sentencing hearing starts Monday in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack for Ryan Armstrong

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

South Korean named Interpol president in blow to Russia

South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang was elected as Interpol’s president edging out a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services.

E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickens 18 people in Ontario, Quebec

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s working with U.S. authorities to determine the source of the romaine lettuce those who got ill were exposed to.

Trump defies calls to punish crown prince for writer’s death

The U.S. earlier sanctioned 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the Oct. 2 killing, but members of Congress have called for harsher actions, including cancelling arms sales.

British, EU leaders to meet as Brexit deadline looms

The U.K. and the European Union agreed last week on a 585-page document sealing the terms of Britain’s departure.

Richard Oland was killed ‘in a rage,’ prosecutor tells son’s murder trial

The verdict from Oland’s 2015 murder trial was set aside on appeal in 2016. Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

B.C.’s HMCS Edmonton rescues two more sea turtles

Warship credited with a turtle rescue earlier in November

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Most Read