LETTER: Beef against proportional representation more scare tactics than anything

Dear editor,

Regarding the beef against proportional representation that ran in the April 10 edition of the Comox Valley Record:

The writer admits that proportional representation (PR) is fair in electing representatives according to the number of people who vote for them. Fairness, the beef writer claims, is a primary consideration. I agree.

The beef writer also states that PR will not answer all our governance problems.

But proportional representation will answer many of our governance problems.

According to the research, PR-elected governments are on average just as stable as those elected under First-Pass-The-Post (FPTP). There would probably be more coalitions and power-sharing agreements, but contrary to what the beef writer claims, these do not lead to any more frequent elections than does FPTP, because governments will be more likely to focus on co-operating than on who “wins” and who “loses.”

Research also shows that PR countries tend to have better environmental regulations (which we need desperately), stronger economies, and higher voter-turnout. Think of the Scandinavian countries, for example.

One scary story the beef writer repeats is that we would have more “fringe” parties represented in the legislature. But many proportional representation models demand a minimum threshold number of votes before a party could gain a seat. In 2013, some 1,813,912 British Columbians voted in the provincial election. If we had been voting in a PR system at that time and if the threshold number had been five per cent, about 90,000 people would have to vote for that fringe point of view in order for a fringe party to gain one seat at the political table. Is it possible? Sure. Is it probable? Not so much.

This “fringe” argument is simply a scare tactic to make us fear change.

Our present government has said it will offer us a PR system that is “made for BC.” We will still have local MLAs, and – most importantly – we will have more fair representation than with our current electoral system.

I will be voting yes to proportional representation in the referendum this year.

Wendy McNiven

Courtenay

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