BC PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION REFERENDUM

The BC Proportional Representation Referendum is to be held in the fall of 2018. ”Vote PR BC would be the official proponent group and No BC Proportional Representation Society would be the official opponent group”. (1) Both sides are run by politicians.

Suzanne Anton, who is running the No BC Proportional Representation Society, is another politician.   She wrote a post which, in my opinion, exemplifies why I have such contempt for politicians. (2)  She just lied, just like they did during the last referendum.  For example, she says ”PR will lead to weaker, not stronger, local representation” and claims that Vote PR BC side is wrong when is says that ”Only an MLA of your political persuasion can represent you” (2) and then goes on the to explain how people select MLA’s based on their qualifications, and paints the MLA’s as virtual saints.

  1. First, I believe that most people select the party, not the MLA. I know there are ridings that have voted for a particular party for many decades, as the MLA’s come and go. In fact, during elections most parties focus on the ‘swing’ ridings which are a riding that could vote for any party.
  2. MLA’s, or MP’s for that matter, do not represent the people. They represent the party, that’s why the party selects the one person who will run in a riding.
  3. Do you think a person who is against the Kinder Morgan pipeline will get much, if any, help from a Liberal MLA? Do you think a person who is pro-immigration will get much, if any, help from a Conservative? Do you think the MLA will promote the person’s thoughts/ideas to the party?  Not to mention, that the handful of people who the party are not interested in what the MLA has to say.
  4. MLA’s are anything but saints; just read about the scandals. The MLAs lie when they say they represent the people and do little or nothing but read the party talking points, go for photo-ops and vote the way they are told to vote. I suggest you watch the documentary Whipped by Sean Holman on YouTube.

Quite frankly, I think we could get rid of MLA’s, but leave the qualified staff to continue to work for the people, and few would notice except when the previous MLA’s don’t show up at the usual photo-ops. And we would have money for schools and hospitals (the politicians like to use these two for blackmail) and affordable housing, etc.

I recently found time to read a book called Tragedy in the Commons. At first I thought it would be a whitewash as the authors interviewed former MP’s but I consider the authors analysis of the comments to be very good.  And I believe that you could just change MP for MLA, federal for provincial because they operate almost the same way.  The following is one of their insightful comments,  although I disagree with the part about MP’s (MLA’s) devoting substantial time to helping the constituents because I believe the politicians are taking credit for the work of the office staff (whose wages we pay):

”MP’s are devoting substantial time and office resources acting as customer service representatives for the federal bureaucracy, thereby raising questions about bureaucratic accountability. But the impact of their efforts was more like plugging a single leak when the entire plumbing needs repair.  If they are interested in processing immigration or veterans’ claims, they should join the civil service.” (4)  The authors also say that the politicians should be spending their time fixing the system so people wouldn’t have these problems.

I don’t think local representation is much of an issue. I think it is important to have the handful of people who actually run things, at the table, in proportion to the vote across the province, to negotiate how the province will move forward.  This would help avoid the swings that happen when one party replaces another and they undo most of what the previous party had changed so little actually gets done.  It would probably reduce a lot finger-pointing because most parties become responsible for what is or is not done.  I think it would allow for long-term planning instead of election-to-election planning.

STV is my preferred electoral system to date, as selected by the BC Citizen’s Assembly, which in this election would be the Rural-Urban Proportional Representation choice. ”Of the three systems on the referendum ballot, RUP is the only system that lets voters rank individual candidates in order by preference. The use of ranked ballots means that all candidates must compete with one another for a voter’s coveted first place ranking, including candidates running in a multi-member district for the same party.” (1). This means that the politicians are competing against others, on the ballot box, in his/her party, to be elected by the people and, therefore, must balance representing the people and the party, not just the party.  It gives a little power back to the people.

Actually my preferred governance system is one that is designed in Canada by the Canadian citizens, for the Canadian citizens, and doesn’t include politicians (what a nice thought) (see Post – What Can You Do – Political, 2015-12-23). But, until then, I would prefer the RUP system.

 

  1. British Columbia electoral reform referendum, 2018 – Wikipedia
  2. Proportional Representation Means the Loss of Local Representation – Suzanne Anton, 2018-08-21, TheTyee.ca
  3. How Electoral Reform Would Strengthen Local Representation – Seth Klein, 2018-08-03, TheTyee.ca
  4. Tragedy in the Commons, Former Members of Parliament Speak Out about Canada’s Failing Democracy – Alison Loat & Michael MacMillan, 2014, pg. 230-231, pg. 106-113 gives more depth to the statement.

 

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