No PR for BC

Well, that was crushing: 61% of the 41% of eligible voters who actually voted rejected proportional representation and opted to stick with “first past the post”.

Assorted lefties and millennials were unhappy. But, really, they have only themselves to blame.

I rather like PR but none of the options presented on the mail-in ballot was worth having. Because the lefties who supported PR wanted to ensure that the PR they would have would avoid the possibility of actual “representation” for any but the NDP and the Greens while increasing the voting efficiency of those Green and NDP votes.

I will leave it to voting wonks to explain the three useless choices presented as the PR alternatives; rather I will pay attention to a very simple idea which was, of course, not included.

Reduce the total number of MLAs elected by electoral districts by, say, one half. So the 87 current electoral districts would shrink to 43. Then take the 44 seats that would open up and run a province-wide list system with a threshold of 2.5% of the votes cast. So you would have one vote in a First Past the Post race in your electoral district and 44 votes to distribute to the 44 slots on the “At Large” lists. [And I would not allow a “straight ticket” single vote…you’d have to vote 44 times or once – because vote plumping would be encouraged.]

Essentially this is the system the Australians use to elect their Senate and it allows a wide variety of candidates to take a run for office with a decent chance of winning.

It would also be a wonderfully upsetting experience for the current parties.

Ezra Levant was happy to see the FPTP system retained but wistful because he would have run a Rebel slate and thinks he could get 10%. (Maybe, I rather doubt it.) But what would happen is that a ginger group of half a dozen to a dozen “list elected”

MLA’s could represent everyone from my own favourite Wine Tax Freedom (WTF) Party to a party composed of First Nations people and on to Christian Fundamentalists and Antifa. With a 2.5% threshold, you can pretty much guarantee the First Nations party would hold four or five at-large seats. So could a Teacher’s Party or a Resource Extraction Party (see Suits and Boots). Recent immigrants to British Columbia could run their own lists as could Aged Bald White Guys such as myself.

But this sort of radical democracy was not on the table in this referendum. Too scary for the NDP and the ultra-conservative Greens.

Because real Proportional Representation was not on the ballot PR lost.

Too bad.

(I might add that it was a huge mistake for the pro-PR forces to entirely align with the left and the greens. Essentially that alignment turned the referendum into a pseudo-referendum on the current Red/Green coalition. That is never a good idea on what is actually a process question.)

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2 thoughts on “No PR for BC

  1. Fred from BC says:

    I just wish they had included something that most people could support, like preferential ballots (which apparently have a built-in flaw, whereby the second choices might win by accident?) or run-off elections (over 50 percent of the vote wins it…if not, drop all but the top two candidates and run it again). Those two change the electoral system just enough to make it more fair but not enough to enable the election of ex-porn stars, tree-huggers and yogic flyers, none of whom I want serving in government. Not everyone actually ‘deserves’ a voice, sorry…

  2. Jay Currie says:

    I agree with your suggested changes, Fred. And by failing to propose such relatively sensible changes the pro-PR people hurt themselves badly.

    I would think a 2.5% threshold would keep out the yogic flyers, the tree huggers in the form of the ultra-conservative Green Party are already inside the gates.

    It would be interesting to see which new voices were heard with a mixed riding/at large system. As I said, I have to bet there would be a First Nations party and there would be at least one explicitly social conservative/fundamentalist party. A women’s party? Probably. A pro-extractive industry group? I’d say a pro-pot party but that ship has sailed.

    The more the merrier.

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