One of the things that first attracted me to proportional representation (PR) apart from the fact that it just made sense, is that it is supported by people across the political spectrum. At my first PR meeting in 2004, I sat next to someone from the Canadian Rate Payer’s Federation and Andrew Coyne was the highly entertaining keynote speaker. PR is no more a lefty plot, concocted to keep their side in power anymore than it is a right wing think tank’s solution to solve their electoral woes. That gives it some real credibility. PR simply levels the playing field so all parties, politicians and voters get treated the same.
In BC, as we embark on our third referendum in a decade and a half, it’s good to remember that the first two referendums were initiated by Gordon Campbell and the Liberals. Now, it happens to be the NDP and the Greens who are putting it on the ballot.
I’ve talked to lots of people and the most common complaint I hear about PR is way more about the party who promoted it, rather than the concept itself. When Campbell put PR on the ballot, the NDP were against. Now the NDP have put it on the ballot and the Liberals are against. This is nothing more than ol’ divisive partisan politics. And it’s not only tiresome, it’s harmful.
Parties aren’t dogs, and to be honest, we like our dogs a lot more. But we keep our dogs on a leash for good reason. The way I see it, proportional representation keeps all the parties on a leash and it puts the leash in our hands. Isn’t that what democracy is all about? Demos: the people. Kratos: to rule. The people rule, or if you prefer, the people hold the leash.