Voters in B.C.have until Nov. 30 to return mail-in ballots in the proportional representation referendum. —Image: contributed

B.C.’s leaders to debate proportional representation: The case for switching to PR

Premier John Horgan and Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson will square off at 7 p.m. on TV tonight

  • Nov. 8, 2018 4:40 p.m.

By Wayne Broughton

If B.C. voters judge on merit, proportional representation (Pro Rep) should trounce the current system in the upcoming referendum.

There’s expert consensus on Pro Rep.

Canada is being left behind: most advanced democracies use Pro Rep, and experts agree it’s more democratic. Polls show citizens with Pro Rep are more satisfied with their governments, because those countries tend to have:

• Higher scores in health, education, and standard of living

• Lower debt, lower corporate taxes, and better long-term economic growth

• Greater civil liberty and better privacy protections

• Less government corruption • Better environmental stewardship

• More women/minorities participating in politics.

RELATED: To change, or not to change, that is the proportional representation referendum question

Why does Pro Rep produce these benefits?

Decision-making is better when everyone’s at the table and co-operation is necessary.

Under FPTP, a party can win a majority of seats and 100 per cent of the power with a minority of votes. Almost every B.C. government since the 1950s has been a “false majority” like this. Each government dismantles the previous government’s programs, creating rollercoaster policy swings.

With Pro Rep, a party that wins 40 per cent of the votes gets about 40 per cent of the seats. Parties must cooperate to develop policies, which means better decision-making and more stable policy.

Under FPTP, it’s normal for over half our votes to be wasted.

If you didn’t vote for the sole winner in your riding, then your vote didn’t help elect anyone. With a Pro Rep system, most votes do help elect someone—so more citizens are represented.

In the past, you may not have bothered to vote because the result in your riding has been a foregone conclusion. With Pro Rep, when your vote doesn’t help elect the front-runner, it can still help elect the second or third most popular candidate.

So Pro Rep means you don’t have to vote strategically. You can vote for who you like, knowing your vote will matter.

RELATED: B.C.’s proportional representation referendum: The case against switching to PR

Why does the No side have any support, then?

First, “Big Tent” parties are worried about losing votes to smaller parties that many of their current supporters actually prefer.

Second, Pro Rep hampers the ability of wealthy elites, who dominate the No side’s funding, to swing elections with expensive attack ads.

Opponents of Pro Rep with vested interests in the status quo have scare mongered with false claims.

Here’s the truth:

• Pro Rep will maintain the regional balance of power because no region will lose MLAs.

• Candidates will not be “dropped in” by parties; they will be nominated in local/regional meetings, just like today.

• Moderate parties will dominate because they need five per cent of the vote to elect members.

• Pro Rep is sufficiently simple for 80 per cent of advanced democracies. We’re smart enough too.

For more information go to prorepfactcheck.ca.

Please help improve our democracy and vote Yes on question one: We need proportional representation. All the Pro Rep systems in question two are moderate and vastly better than FPTP.

The choice is clear: Voting for proportional representation is voting for real democracy.

Wayne Broughton is an associate professor of mathematics at UBCO and a spokesperson for the Kelowna chapter of Fair Vote.

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