LETTER: Proportional Representation is ideal, but better than what we have now

Congratulations to the editorial staff for taking a stand on electoral reform in British Columbia (Our View – Change can be a scary thing – Oct 26), and good for you for carrying a letter advocating for the status quo. The author appears to represent those in society who find change scary, those who would rather live with a familiar pain than risk an unfamiliar pleasure.

I do agree with his take on the concern people should have about the role politicians and political parties will play in filling the blanks on any model of proportional representation adopted, but I note he failed to explain why British Columbians should stay with a model that provides those very politicians representing well under 40 per cent of the popular vote uncontrolled power over those representing over 60 per cent of the electorate. That just does not make sense to me.

I am a “Caniwi” – my mother was from Saskatoon, my father from Whanganui, New Zealand. New Zealand has had Mixed Member Proportional for coming up on 30 years, adopted after a party received a majority in the New Zealand parliament having earned significantly fewer votes than the party that ended up in opposition.

On a recent visit, my uncle, a retired economics professor, confirmed that the country is very satisfied with MMP and that it is functioning well, with a far greater range of perspectives contributing to decisions. I’ve polled other family and friends there, and I have not heard from anyone dissatisfied with MMP. And no, lunatic fringe elements do not have a disproportionate amount of control – those folks are safely ensconced on the lunatic fringe.

Any major party that cynically allowed them disproportionate power in order to stay in power would pay a mighty price the next time they went to the polls, and I believe that is how PR will work in British Columbia.

Proportional representation is not a perfect solution to the tyranny of First Past the Post – a legislature composed of bright, creative independent members unfettered by party ideology and dogma would be far more democratic – but until that happens, I’ll happily take whatever model of PR we adopt over FPTP.

Brian Domney


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