Upon winning the BC Liberal leadership, Andrew Wilkinson, a long-time Party fixture, lost little time in reminding his people that the Party’s most important goal is the defeat of proportional representation in the upcoming provincial referendum.
While Liberal opposition to proportional representation is no secret, there is a BC Liberal insider whose thoughts regarding proportional representation they probably wish didn’t exist in the public domain. But they do exist, and the words are from none other than Christy Clark. Yes, you read that right. Clark articulates a thoughtful, informed case for changing our voting system and, at the same time, levels a powerful indictment against the politicians who are fighting tooth and nail to keep first past the post.
In this rather confessional 2009 CKNW radio broadcast, Clark, who at the time was not in politics, admits, that while in the Gordon Campbell government, she avidly supported first past the post because it worked for her, was in her own interest. She confides, though, that since she has “left politics my view have changed,” mainly because she hears from her CKNW listeners who are “sick to death of the way our political system works.”
She agrees with listeners’ grievances, which include having their votes “thrown in the garbage,” politicians who “ignore what their constituents want” and an “relentless vitriolic” war of words during question period that “poisons us all against our democratic process.”
Clark’s indictment of those who fight against proportional representation is stark: “When I look at the people who are actively campaigning against [proportional representation]” I see “people whose interests and, in many cases, whose income is dependent on keeping our system the way it is. People who … relish the ugly realities of the first past the post system.” Clark believes that electoral reform actually frightens them.
Clark continues by saying that in proportional representation, all politicians will need “to compete for all of your votes,” they’ll need “to listen to their communities first and their leaders and their parties second,” and that voters can choose a representative they “think is the smartest, the one you think is most ethical.” Further, according to Clark, “all politicians will have an incentive to get along,” which means a return to “civility in politics.”
Listening to this broadcast for the first time is like stumbling into an alternate universe. Certainly, not the same old, same old Liberal position. I never thought I would say this: Listen to Clark, and vote for proportional representation.