63 attend Proportional Representation rally in Cranbrook
On October 24, 63 people attended the Proportional Representation rally sponsored by Fair Vote BC – Cranbrook at the Ktunaxa Nation gym.
The keynote speaker was Glen Ewan, Q.C. of Golden. Ewan practiced law for decades; he was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1999, and retired in 2017. He has been speaking at communities around the East Kootenay on proportional representation and on the ballot questions before us in the referendum. He has contributed submissions to all past Electoral Boundaries Commissions since 1978 and was a speaker on the Columbia Basin tour for the single transferable vote (STV) referenda of 2009.
Local Fair Vote BC chapter leaders and organizers included Bill Green of Kimberley, Joyce Green (no relation), Sharon Cross of Cranbrook and Randal Macnair of Fernie. The Ktunaxa Nation generously donated the gymnasium for the event.
Dean Smith, a well-known Cranbrook musician who also plays trombone for the Symphony of the Kootenays, provided jazz as people gathered.
Participants learned that over 90 countries use a proportional voting system including Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark. The options offered in the referendum guarantee that all districts would be represented by local people.
If PR passes, a party with less than 50% of the vote would no longer form a majority government. A coalition of parties would be required, which incentivizes policy collaboration and cooperation. This is demonstrated in countries with PR.
PR means that there is proportionality – that is, a close correspondence – between citizens’ voting preferences and electoral outcomes. Virtually all votes contribute to the election of a candidate or a party. With no “wasted” votes, voters feel their participation counts, and voter engagement improves.
Under PR, our electoral district would be larger, enough to draw in between 80,000 and 100,000 population. The formula is intended to keep the number of MLAs between 87 and 95, as per current legislation.
A common fear is that PR will permit fringe parties. However, Ewan noted that fringe parties will not be in the Legislature unless they get five per cent of the popular vote, which is very unlikely. In the last three federal elections, for example, the 15-20 ‘fringe’ parties put together didn’t get one per cent of the vote.
Contrary to popular misconception, all districts will have a local representative under all three options.
The ballot being mailed to all voters permits people to vote, first, for either PR or First-Past-the-Post (the current system); and second, for one of three PR options.
People can choose to vote on the first question and not on the second; they can also vote against PR and still rank the PR systems if they wish.
Elections BC has a sample ballot and instructions on its website.
Submitted by Joseph Cross