LETTER: PR will give voice to extreme views

An electoral system is a means to an end. The expected end is an effective, well-functioning democracy. Proponents of proportional representation (PR), like the July 25 letter writer, conflate the means with the end, arguing that only PR can deliver democratic government. He laments B.C.’s “false majority governments.” referring to them as “undemocratic outcomes” and rule by “tyranny.”

However, a democratic state is not determined solely, nor even chiefly, by its electoral system any more than an undemocratic state is. The free election in Egypt did not produce a democratic government, for example.

Democracy is defined by a number of values, most importantly a commitment to individual liberty (freedom of thought, expression, and association), individual justice, the rule of law, security of property, and control of political institutions through universal suffrage by an informed public. The level of commitment to these democratic values is what defines the quality of a democracy, not the type of electoral system it has. Only a misinformed and/or extremely biased person would argue that our current electoral system destroys these values and that PR will rescue and deliver them.

Here’s the thing, if PR is introduced it will invite a number of new voices and special interests into our Legislature from both ends of the political spectrum. These voices may represent a wider spectrum of political opinion; but their commitment to the values mentioned above is uncertain. Most concerning is that they will exercise disproportionate political power since larger parties will depend on them to cobble together a majority of seats in the Legislature. The coalition that ultimately forms the government will be based on backroom deals between politicians without any input from the public.

At least under the current system it’s possible to ‘throw the bums out’ from time to time. Under PR, as long as extreme voices on the right or the left can generate enough support to win seats, they will always be represented in the Legislature and will wield disproportionate power to their numbers. There will be very little opportunity for the public to weaken their influence as long as other politicians need their support to form a government.

Think carefully before supporting PR.

Mike Pankhurst

Saanich

Just Posted

Saanich wants bunkers to be off limits for cannabis growing

Saanich looks to block cement bunkers on ALR farmland

UPDATE: Missing Langford teen found safe

The 13-year-old Langford boy reported missing Wednesday has been found

Victoria police seize over one kilo of fentanyl, guns and cars

Andrew Ritch is facing charges of drug trafficking and firearm offences

Fire chief stops driving lesson to fight fire

Sooke fire concerned over second suspicious bin fire this year

Tour de Victoria rolls through the region Saturday

Expect traffic delays across Greater Victoria on Aug. 18

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

UPDATED: Vancouver Island community under evacuation alert due to wildfire

BC Wildfire Service says steep terrain near Zeballos poses challenge as “out of control” wildfire approaches homes

Most Read