Electoral Reform 3 of 6
Growing up, one of the questions my parents posed was “So, if everyone was jumping off a bridge, you would jump too?” whenever I tried ‘everyone is doing it’ to justify my action.
‘Just because everyone’ was not an acceptable excuse for not thinking it through myself.
If we are considering a change as far reaching and impactful as a proportional representation electoral system, we had better think it through carefully to avoid surprises and unwanted consequences.
We need to think it through and discuss it Caveat Emptor because while there is no denying Canadians have hands on experience in campaigns, voting and results with our ‘first past the post’ system, Canadians have no real awareness of what proportional representation is; no hands on experience with proportional representation to use to evaluate the claimed and promised benefits and ‘improvements’ to Canadian democracy; no experience that would help to foresee or evaluate any negative effects, flaws, quirks and outcomes of changing to proportional representation.
Adding to the need for careful, thorough thought and discussion is that one can argue the degree and depth to which Canadians have a solid understanding of our current electoral system and of the history and reasoning behind our current electoral system.
Thinking it through, gaining an understanding, starts with a discussion to ensure we have a shared understanding of the meaning of the words and terms used in discussing proportional representation before we can begin to explore what proportional representation is. Because, without ensuring common understanding of the meanings of the words and terms used, some will be talking apples, some oranges and some lemons which would prevent useful discussion froim occurring.
One of the biggest changes with proportional representation is an end to majority governments.
The way the mathematics plays out a proportional representation election with more than two solid and establishedpolitical parties running candidates will result in a minority government. If you have doubts about proportional representation ushering in permanent minority government, examine the results of elections in BC over the past two decades [Appendix A] and contrast the actual results under our first past the post system with what the results would have been under proportional representation.
The differences that would result from a change to proportional representation are why, before we rush to adopt proportional representation based on the promises of politicians, political pundits and other special interest groups, we need to take into consideration the experience of the jurisdictions using a proportional representation electoral system.
Seldom, if ever, do discussions of proportional representation in jurisdictions using proportional representation electoral system take into consideration the size of a country, diversity versus homogeneity of a country’s population, the distinct regions of a country, distinct regional interests and regional conflicts.
But in any discussions of switching to proportional representation in Canada the size and breadth of the country, different regional interests and conflicts, a wide variation in ethnicity are major factors that need to be considered in any discussion of proportional representation because these considerations will have a profound effect on the outcomes and consequences of a switch to proportional representation.
Similar consideration needs to be applied to any province or territory that is considering a switch to proportional representation.
Because under proportional representation you do not have to win a riding or ridings in order to win seats in parliament [or the legislature] proportional representation can give rise to [create] new political parties, based on special interests, geographical area, ethnicity,etcetera.
The lack of any party winning a majority government and the ability of small, narrow interest parties to win seats is why non-mainstream political parties end up with power out of all proportion to the number of seats the party has. Because the party forming the government is dependent on the small party to hold onto power and form the government.
As the NDP are dependent on the Green Party’s support to be in charge of BC’s government.
In their headlong rush to switch to proportional representation the NDP/Green collaboration have skipped the important first step of discussing what are the effects, consequences and changes that would arise from a change to proportional representation.
In light of just how many and how profound the effects and consequences of a change to proportional will be, voting anything but NO CHANGE is playing Russian roulette with our electoral system and the future quality of life in BC with a gun having, at most, one empty chamber.