LETTER: Against proportional representation

From reader Rod Retzlaff

Re: “Proportional representation: it’s almost time for champagne” (Letters, Oct. 25)

Ann Remnant’s letter suggesting that British Columbians are on the cusp of throwing out our current Democratic voting system sends chills up my spine.

The first thing we should do is stop denigrating the current system, which has been doing a good job for most of the last 150 years, by calling it the “First Past the Post” system (or as Ms. Remnant refers to it the “FPTP”).

FPTP infers that the fastest contestant wins the race. It does not describe our current system, which elects the person in each riding who gets the most votes. By this system we elect one of our own people, from our own riding, in the hope that they will have a good understanding of what we require.

In a proportional system, we won’t necessarily get a representative from our own riding, because smaller parties, which don’t have the numbers to actually get elected anywhere, will still get a seat based on their small percentage of the vote. These new representatives will need to be responsible for representing someone, and it very well might be you, even though they know (not very much) about your riding or its needs.

A proportional system could also lead to an avalanche of small parties holding a small percentage of the overall vote attaining one or two seats, holding the system to ransom, and rendering it completely unworkable.

Our current system may not be perfect, but it is simple, and well understood by most voters. Any new system will definitely be less so.

When it comes to democracy, simple is less corruptible than complicated, and it goes without saying that no matter what the system, there are those who will do their best to corrupt the process for their own gain.

We have a good and thriving democracy. It may not be perfect, but we would truly be foolish to get rid of it. Proponents promise a system where “every vote counts.” Politics is a contest, and in a contest someone has to win, and someone has to lose. “Every vote counts” is just not a realistic goal.

Rod Retzlaff


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