LETTER: Vested interests oppose changes to electoral system

Re: The letter Proportional Representation (PR) will give voice to extreme views in the Aug. 8 Saanich News.

We’ve just seen another letter, typical of the anti-PR forces who are deathly afraid of a change to the current first-past-the-post electoral (FPTP) system. FPTP allows a minority to gain a self-serving four or five-year lock on power though often, nothing close to half of the voters support them.

Perhaps the writer is a BC Liberal who hopes for a repeat of the 2001 B.C. election, which gave Liberals 97 per cent of the legislature seats despite having only 58 per cent of the votes. Was that the kind of ‘democratic’ result the biased and misinformed author thought best served B.C. voters – just two elected representatives to represent 43 per cent of the voters? How about the 1996 B.C. election when the second place NDP party ‘won’ a majority of the seats and a five-year lock on power? Is that an effective, well-functioning democracy? Perhaps though, the writer just intended to rouse fear in voters, the oft-used tactic of desperate political operatives, when the facts don’t support their arguments or their goals. That would certainly explain the very confused, contradictory and unfounded argument they put forth.

It’s true that PR will produce governments which must include input from different points of view (including minorities), involving cooperation and collaboration, producing more stable, broad-based policies and legislation. These PR governments will also be far more accountable to voters. Failing to represent their voters’ views, they can be thrown out at any time, unlike the current FPTP system.

New voices and special interests – yes, bring them on. What makes our province and country great is its strength through diversity. No, ‘fringe groups’ will not control government. Clearly set voting thresholds as part of PR design will prevent this.

PR also means almost all voters will have an elected representative of their choice, supporting their values and priorities. Nobody will exercise disproportionate political power – PR means proportional. That’s the whole point. Currently, almost half the votes cast don’t have any impact on elections. With FPTP, half the voters needn’t bother voting. PR will fix this.

PR means a change in political discourse and having to appeal to a broad base of support. That’s a change we sorely need with the increasingly divisive political rhetoric of the old-school politicians. They need only incite their minority base, ignoring other views.

Voters should be very wary about the claims being made around electoral reform. Don’t take anyone’s word on this – check out the facts yourselves. Be aware that vested interests who’ve consistently opposed change in our electoral system, will continue to make all sorts of unfounded, false claims. Democracy desperately needs your help. Please get informed and vote.

Diane Guthrie

Victoria

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