What is proportional representation?
It is a way for a candidate who loses an election to ultimately win a seat. Sharp political activists given adequate motivation could probably produce a dozen variations of the system in a short time, as I believe they already have. There could be alternative ballots, preferential ballots, “MLAs at large” floating around the electoral landscape looking for a place to settle. Instant runoff voting, single transferable vote, contingent vote and innumerable others.
Also, a distinct possibility exists that constituents of a riding will have foisted upon them an MLA whom none of them know, who knows little of the issues in the riding, and worst of all, they don’t want.
Factions, smaller parties, sometimes one-issue parties, often attain more power than they deserve. Larger parties must accommodate their issues to gain and maintain enough power to govern as a coalition. This is a breeding ground for indecisiveness and inefficient use of government time.
There is a feeling that the proposed benefits of proportional representation seem to aid parties in general, rather than local constituents. In the past they have been able to find approachable and helpful MLAs who live in and understand their ridings regardless of which party they belong to. This may no longer be a privilege and could become largely a thing of the past.
Dave Barrett, the Bennetts, Garde Gardom, Richard McBride, were all successful politicians in our province. They governed well without a thought to proportional representation, and I am convinced they loved to fight and win. I know there have been times in our past when we were governed by parties with less than 50 per cent of the popular vote. However, that is a small price to pay for rock solid stability and maintaining the “go for it” winning attitude in our elections. These politicians of the past are speaking to us through time and we owe it to ourselves to listen.
We need to remember that by definition, democracy is a participatory event. Every election is determined by the voters who show up.