Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said he welcomes members of council taking sides on the current referendum of proportional representation (PR), but he himself not tip his hand where he stands on the issue.
“The conversation on PR is an important one, and one which I sincerely hope engages the largest possible interest and engagement of the residents of Saanich, the region and B.C.,” he said, when asked about Coun. Rebecca Mersereau openly campaigning in favour of the proportional representation. “I fully respect [Coun.] Mersereau’s right to weigh in on any of the issues of the day that she regards as important. As we know, Saanich voters elected nine independent, talented and diverse members to council. I believe it is good to see them working put these attributes to work.”
Haynes himself though did not say where he stands on the issue.
Mersereau earlier this month urged her voters to vote in favour of proportional representation during the referendum ending on Nov. 30.
Mersereau said in an interview that she supporting proportional representation for three reasons. First, a “wealth of evidence” shows that it is a more democratic system than the current first-past-post-the-post (FPTP) system, she said.
“I’m also hopeful that it will increase voter turnout by sending the message that every vote counts, even if it’s not in favour of the party or person who comes out ahead in the polls,” she said. “A third reason is that I believe it will help us transition to a more constructive and collaborative political atmosphere due to the need for parties to negotiate and compromise, which would be much more befitting of the importance of our political institutions than the antagonistic and raucous behaviour we often experience currently.”
This would ultimately open elected office to a much more diverse cross section of candidates, she said.
Mersereau said she has not yet received any personal reactions from her fellow councillors. “Nor have we had time to discuss this campaign,” she said.”In recent weeks, it’s been all hands on deck to get up to speed on Saanich affairs.”
Publicly though, Mersereau has received support from Coun. Nathalie Chambers, as well Coun. Ned Taylor, who fully supports PR. “This is an exciting time for our province because we have the opportunity to improve democracy and truly make every vote count,” he said. “Time and time again political parties have received 100 per cent of power with less than 50 per cent of the vote, we can better than that.”
Other members of council have yet to respond to the Saanich News for comment, or declined to take a position on the referendum.
“For me, I am telling voters to get informed on the issue(s) and vote accordingly,” said Coun. Judy Brownoff.