Sunday letters

Preferential ballot should be on the list

While all election systems have their faults, the decision to only offer three forms of proportional representation as alternatives to the current system reeks of political manoeuvring.

Both the NDP and the Greens apparently see these election methods as a means to extend their influence on government and hold onto power. For the voter, it replaces selecting an individual to represent them in the legislature with voting for a political party that will do the selecting for them. Not a change I relish.

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If, after centuries of service, first-past-the-post must go, then the most equitable alternative is clearly the preferential ballot, where voters list their choices of the candidates in order of preference. On each ballot count, the candidate with the least votes drops out. If he or she was your first choice, then your second choice cuts in, and so on until one candidate gains at least 50 per cent of the votes plus one.

The advantage of this method is that the voter, not the political party brass, selects their representative and the elected candidate always has the support (albeit not necessarily first-choice support) of at least half the voters, and an individual voter’s other choices continue to influence the election even after their first and perhaps subsequent choices have dropped out of the running.

Why, given its advantages, was the preferential ballot dismissed and only three forms of proportional representation offered?

This blatant manoeuvring should be accorded the rejection it deserves. Better the devil we know.

Terry Milne

Victoria

Wouldn’t your want your vote to count?

In response to all the No propaganda about proportional representation: Why wouldn’t a Conservative in Victoria want their vote to count toward something? Why wouldn’t a New Democrat in Surrey want their vote to count?

This voting system is in use in most developed countries. No population has ever voted to go back. And yes, you do get local representation — in one of the systems on the ballot, even more local representation. And the five per cent threshold prevents fringe parties from ever seizing the balance of power.

Who would like to see politicians being more constructive, objective and careful what they say about their opponents, in hopes they might get other voters’ second choices? We might even get more women running for office.

I’m not sure what there is to lose here.

Orion Carrier

Saanich

Three MLAs call the shots in legislature

No one wants to talk about the cost of electoral reform, but it will be expensive.

I have worked many elections, and it will cost millions to change the electoral system to something different. It will cost tens of millions to fund more MLAs, their salaries, travel allowances, offices, staff and gold-plated pension plan.

Meanwhile, B.C. needs funding to help with affordable housing, homelessness, the opioid crisis, shortage of doctors and needed infrastructure upgrades. There are much better ways to spend our tax dollars.

Proportional-representation advocates claim that it will force parties to form coalitions, to “get along.” Ironically, we are experiencing that now in B.C., with the NDP having to form an alliance with the Green Party to stay in power.

We have a party of three members calling the shots. I don’t call that democracy. Some might call it a coalition, but it is really tantamount to blackmail: “Do as my small minority group wants or we won’t support you.” This is definitely not democracy.

Our tax dollars should be used to solve existing problems. The low voter participation in this referendum is evidence that it is not as important as the real issues. I encourage people to vote No to changing our electoral system at this time.

Suzanne Anderson

Duncan

Majority didn’t back Liberals’ policies

Re: “B.C. voters should reject proportional representation,” editorial, Nov. 16.

Many were upset at the editorial. In a radio interview, publisher and editor-in-chief Dave Obee commented that the editorial was designed to make people think and few were discussing its substance.

My concern was with this statement: Under FPTP, “by and large we get what we vote for,” followed by: “and if we don’t, we elect someone else next time around.”

First, “we,” the majority, did not vote for the B.C. Liberals’ legacy of doctor shortages; the real-estate crisis with its links to money-laundering, drugs and foreign ownership; breaking of B.C. laws on teachers’ contracts; Site C exemption from commission review; and a blind eye to campaign contributions.

It’s true “we get what we vote for” when “we” refers to the minority of voters casting winning ballots, and “what we vote for” refers to the winning party’s underlying ideology. The B.C. Liberals’ ideology is economics first, social and environmental issues last. Through FPTP, this minority-supported ideology is delivered through a dictatorship.

Second, while we can “elect someone else next time around,” doing so does not reverse previous negative policy impacts. This causes new governance energy to be directed to correct previous errors. Some errors take decades to fix (doctor shortage) and some are uncorrectable (Site C).

Proportional representation raises the percentage of voters casting winning ballots, and promises party ideology tempering through coalition-government consensus policy-making, resulting in proactive policy not needing later correction, and consequently, timely, representative and efficient governance.

Ron Kot

Victoria

PR supporter bothered spectators

I was one of the thousands lining Government Street to see the Island Farms Santa parade. While waiting for the parade to come by, many of us were bothered by an elderly woman wearing a makeshift proportional-representation vest/jacket and asking us if we had voted.

I stated that I had voted to retain the present system. She seemed miffed and said: “That figures.” Perhaps my western hat and mackinaw jacket were not enough to hide my redneck persona.

In any case, it shows that the Greens and the reds are getting desperate to try to swing the vote their way, if the have to make a nuisance of themselves at such a venue.

Dwayne Thompson

Victoria

Citizens’ assemblies chose PR

As time runs out for returning our ballots on the electoral-reform referendum, many people still haven’t voted because they remain unsure what to vote for.

Why not rely on the advice of fellow citizens drawn at random? These people were just like you: Most knew little or nothing about voting systems, but they happened to be picked to sit on the B.C. Citizens Assembly. They agreed to spend a lot of time (10 months, as it turned out) studying voting systems with lessons from political scientists and others.

They concluded that proportional representation was a better voting system than our current first-past-the-post system. After contemplating mixed-member proportional as a replacement, they recommended single-transferable vote. (Both STV and MMP make up the rural-urban system being offered in our current referendum.)

Because people on the assembly were picked at random, they represent what the entire population of B.C. would have chosen had we all taken 10 months to study voting systems. It is no surprise, therefore, that every citizens’ assembly or commission (there are about 10 of them) that has subsequently studied voting systems across Canada has come to the same conclusion: PR is better than FPTP.

The random sample that made up the assembly means that if you had taken the same amount of time to study voting systems, there’s a 96 per cent chance you, too, would have chosen PR (96 per cent was the proportion of assembly members who voted for PR).

Are you still confused?

Philip Symons

Victoria

Government spending growing too fast

Re: “B.C. budget on track, province to lead Canada in growth, minister says,” Nov. 27.

It was with trepidation and dismay that I read the feel-good story about the B.C. government budget. Already in Canada, all levels of government spending are approaching 50 per cent of GDP. Municipal spending in B.C. grew 43 per cent between 2006 and 2016. And now our NDP/Green government, in seeking to alleviate all social and environmental inequities, is projecting spending for next year of $56.8 billion.

This is projected, so it could be higher. This constitutes almost a 20 per cent ($9.3 billion) increase in spending over three years since 2016, and 45 per cent over 10 years. I don’t even want to think about Liberal spending in Ottawa.

Life in Canada is expensive now. Get ready for it to become even more expensive.

Les Barclay

Nanaimo

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