LETTERS: For and against proportional representation

From readers Maurice Rhodes and Ann Remnant

Re: “Against proportional representation” (Letters, Nov. 8)

Recently Mr Rod Retzlaff of Glade recently made several excellent points in your paper against proposed voting alternatives and for the system we have, sometimes called “first past the post.”

I support him in his views and would but add that our present system meets the requirements of democracy: that interested persons, and those who might agree with him or her, are free to nominate and support that person as a candidate for a position in a legislature that operates according to a constitution and the laws of the state.

I am free to enter a voting booth (or not) and secretly choose whom among the candidates I favour. Then I am free to leave the polling place with with my vote still secret and no threat or censure me for how I voted.

The fact that some people did not see the person they voted for elected should not give them the right to a second choice in the hope they might get their cake and eat it too. They claim they have no voice but the winning candidate represents them too in a representative democracy. We are not like wolves at the kill who, because they were in the chase, demand to have a go at the carcass.

Maurice A. Rhodes


Re: “Against proportional representation” (Letters, Nov. 8)

Rod Retzlaff warns that changing our voting system to proportional representation (PR) could spell the end of local representation and result in an avalanche of small parties. Neither Rod, nor I, nor anybody else I know wants all our future MLAs to be lawyers from Vancouver, nor do we want our future governments to be handicapped by a multitude of micro parties.

It’s true that B.C. voters place a high value on having a local MLA who lives in and understands the region they represent. In such a large and diverse province as ours, nothing else makes sense.

Fortunately, there are many PR systems that offer both local representation and good proportionality.

Nor would either of us welcome an avalanche of small parties. New Zealand, a former British colony that inherited the first past the post (FPTP) system, like Canada, switched to a proportional system after a referendum in 1993.

Their chosen system guarantees representation from all corners of the country, reflects NZ’s diverse population and keeps the government stable. After NZ’s most recent election, three large stable parties make up the government, with a grand total of five parties elected to parliament.

After 24 years of PR, not much of an avalanche.

FPTP makes a mockery of our democracy. Last election, thousands of Liberal, NDP and Greens voters, 49.5 per cent of B.C. voters, elected absolutely no one.

FPTP also creates an adversarial environment where parties focus on scoring political points rather than looking for solutions. PR better represents the public will, builds on co-operation and collaboration between parties and leads to better decisions which benefit us all.

Mr. Retzlaff is right when he says that FPTP elections have winners and losers, what he fails to see is that it is us voters who are the losers. B.C. is a great place to live and we are largely hard working, honest people.

Why would a nice province like ours want to hang out with a power grubbing system like FPTP, when we could have a system that ensures that our vote will count, and our neighbour’s vote will count too?

Ann Remnant


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