To The Editor:
Local Kootenayites for proportional representation are feeling optimistic with Attorney-General David Eby's announcement of the referendum question.
“It’s great to have a clear and fair question for the referendum. Now we can get to work on reaching as many voters as possible in our community over the next six months,” says Ann Remnant, Fair Vote Canada Kootenay leader.
The huge response to the online consultation – at 91,000 it’s the biggest in BC history – shows that BC voters care deeply about this issue. Both the proposed question and legislation are based on public feedback the ministry received.
“There is a lot of great stuff to celebrate in Eby’s recommendation to the BC cabinet”, adds Remnant. “All the systems on the ballot deliver strong local representation, more voter choice, fair election results, and ensure that almost every voter will make a contribution to electing an MLA. All models are easy to use for voters and ensure representation from every region of the province”.
Notable in the announcement are the following points:
- No significant increase in the size of the legislature.
- No region of the province will have fewer MLAs than it currently has.
- No political party will be eligible to get a seat if they receive less than 5% of the overall vote in the province or region.
- Elections BC will be in charge of public education and financing.
- No union or corporate money.
Values important to voters such as strong local and regional representation will be protected. “Concerns that electoral reform will diminish local and rural representation have now been put to rest. This is especially important for us in the Kootenays”, says Remnant.
A two part question gives voters first a choice between proportional representation and FPTP, and then offers three made-for-BC proportional representation models. The referendum ballot gives voters plenty of choice, even those who don’t want change can participate in the second question by choosing one system, ranking the systems according to their preference, or not expressing any preference. All votes will count.
This referendum is ultimately a question of modernizing our voting system to make it fair. No party with 40% of the vote should be handed all of the power. Over 17 years of polls show that a strong majority of voters agree with this principle and the evidence backs that up. It’s no wonder we see so many grassroots groups organizing to support this change.
“It’s time for a healthier, less confrontational kind of politics. This proposed legislation is an excellent start to a better democracy in BC.”
Ann Remnant, FairVote Canada Kootenay leader