OPINION: Voting systems matter

Andrew Wilkinson


BC Liberal Party Leader


THIS past Summer I travelled all across the province, speaking with British Columbians of all walks of life. I often raised the subject of this Fall’s referendum on electoral reform and was surprised to discover that most people were unaware that we were having one at all.

So I have committed to using my time speaking with people in every corner of this province to shine a light on the darkness that surrounds the NDP’s referendum. This is because on something as important as changing the fundamentals of our democracy, people need to know the facts.

Voting systems matter.

The NDP have decided to carry out this referendum with mail-in ballots. By now, you should have received one in the mail and you must send it back to Elections BC by November 30th to have your voice heard.

The first question will ask you to select between our current First Past The Post (FPTP) system or a new Proportional Representation (PR) electoral system. The second question, which is optional, will be a choice to rank three different PR systems, only one of which has ever been used anywhere in the world.

You have real influence, your vote decides who is in power. Under a PR system you transfer that role to political parties and you lose influence. Proportional Representation systems make MLAs less accountable to the voters, and more accountable to parties. Backroom party bosses draft lists of potential MLAs instead of trusting the people to choose the person they think best represents their community. PR systems lead to government instability with constant coalitions and more frequent elections. They also open the door to fringe and extremist parties having undue influence on our government. Today, the Green Party controls the balance of power with just 4% of the seats in the Legislature.

Right now, under FPTP, your elected representatives are wholly accountable to their constituents. British Columbia has an effective electoral system that has succeeded in creating the province we have today. Our province boasts the world’s best health outcomes, among the best education outcomes, and the lowest unemployment rate in Canada. That is the proof of a system that works, a system I don’t want to see jeopardized.

Voting systems matter.

During last year’s election, [Premier] John Horgan made solid promises about this referendum. He said there would be a simple Yes/No choice, decisions made by an All-Party committee, and that fair regional representation would be maintained and protected. All three of those promises were broken.

Instead, we now have a complicated and confusing referendum. From day one, this has been a stacked deck in a rigged game and the NDP are hoping you won’t notice.

Nobody should be left out in the dark when they vote this Fall. We all want to make our democracy better. But this is not the way to do it.

Voting systems matter.