Buying a pig in a poke

Buying a pig in a poke

Historically, referendums that ask citizens to choose between first-past-the-post and proportional representation have failed when voters have been provided with a clear comparison between the two.

For example, the first referendum on proportional representation in B.C. won 57% support. But only 39% voted in favour in the second referendum, when the public received details about how our voting system would actually change.

With the single transferrable voting system, or STV, the only proportional representation choice on the two previous ballots, existing electoral ridings would have become much larger with each on having multiple candidates elected. Local representation would have been lost, and far from being more democratic, some members could have been elected with as few as 12.5 per cent of the vote, depending upon the size of the riding. No one could easily explain how ballots were counted. Once voters understood the details, they overwhelming rejected proportional representation in favour of our current system, which has given us stable reliable and good governance for over a 100 years.

So to ensure that proportional representation, or PR, is successful this time around, the 2018 referendum question has been rigged by the parties that would most benefit from change.

Rather than offering clarity, three alternative PR options are being proposed, one of which has never been tried before anywhere in the world. Only generic esoteric information is being provided. No mention is made of electoral boundaries or other details that might influence an informed decision.

In short, the NDP government, the Green Party and Vote PR BC are asking us to buy a pig in a poke, which is like buying a used car without checking the engine, or a house without a building inspection. Don’t do it!

John Amon

Victoria