As British Columbia voters get set to go to the polls on May 9, they will have their first opportunity to elect a government committed to proportional representation.
In recent interviews with Fair Vote Canada’s Victoria Chapter, NDP leader John Horgan and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver agreed they will be making electoral reform a platform issue. The Liberals and Conservatives have not responded to Fair Vote Canada’s requests for interviews or forwarded their position on electoral reform.
The BC NDP commit to holding a referendum on proportional representation, and will campaign in favour of a yes vote. Unlike the previous referendum, Horgan has said this one will be based on 50% plus 1. See Horgan interview here.
The BC Greens commit to implementing proportional representation in time for the following provincial election following an all-party and citizens committee or independent task force to decide which system. See Weaver interview here.
According to both Horgan and Weaver, a voting system which delivers 100% of the decision-making power to a party with only 44% of the popular vote is a voting system that is badly in need of reform.
“All policy decisions are downstream from the way our electoral system allocates power. Sensitive issues like: Site C, Kinder Morgan, changing rules on donations, etc. need social license which is impossible under a system that returns false majorities as the norm.” says Fair Vote Canada’s Executive Director, Kelly Carmichael.
“Government accountability is a big issue. Two parties which captured almost half the vote in the last election and have the support of strong majority of voters in provincial polling are in favour of banning corporate and union donations. In 2010, Fair Vote Canada passed a motion on corporate and union donations that mirrors the current calls for reform. Yet this government appears unresponsive to what the majority want. Many British Columbia voters have lost trust in the government decision-making process.”
At one time Premier Christy Clark was a strong voice for proportional representation. In 2009, she stated “Now at the time looking back I realize that I liked it (fptp) because as a politician, our current system served my personal interests very well, thank you very much! I was an elected politician. I’d be chosen by the first-past-the-post system, and I, like many of the entrenched interests that are now fighting STV, didn’t see the need to change a system that worked very well, for me.”
In the last BC election with first-past-the-post, 49% of voters cast ballots which elected no-one.
BC has held two referenda on proportional representation in the past, the first one garnering 58% support from voters. “It’s our third time up to bat and time for a home-run!” said Fair Vote Canada Victoria co-chair Terry Dance Bennink. “I’m optimistic that we’ll elect a government on May 9 that will honour its promise to make every vote count,” she said.
Fair Vote Canada is a grassroots citizens campaign for proportional representation representing over 10,000 BC voters. On March 31, FVC registered as an advertising sponsor in the BC election.Fair Vote Canada