What are they afraid of?

BC Liberal MLAs have been holding a slew of events around the province, slamming proportional representation and passionately urging voters to reject pro rep in this fall’s referendum. What are they so afraid of?

A quick look at the 2017 election results is illuminating. In the ridings won by BC Liberals, they won about half of the popular vote. Due to the miracle of first past the post, that translated into 100 per cent of the seats in entire regions of the province. Had the election been conducted under a proportional system, they would have won just over half the seats. Do you see where this is heading? Houston, we have a problem!

For our MLA and his BC Liberal buddies, this referendum is of more than academic interest. The fact is several of them would be out of work under a proportional system, since the other half of the seats in our region would have gone to the NDP and the Greens, based on their level of popular support. While they are no doubt acutely aware of this little problem, it’s easy to understand why they might choose not to make this unfortunate fact the focus of their complaints.

Sounding off about the “terribly flawed” process and predicting “disastrous” results for our province is more palatable for our MLAs than moaning loudly about their own impending unemployment.

But this referendum isn’t about BC Liberal MLAs. It’s about voters and improving representation for all of us. Because the ridings would be structured differently, voters here would have more than one local MLA, meaning almost all of us would actually have an MLA who aligns with our own priorities representing us. Fancy that! No wonder voter satisfaction is higher in countries using pro rep!

An unfortunate side effect of the BC Liberal sweep enabled by first past the post was that large areas of the province, including this riding, ended up with no MLAs on the government side of the legislature. Sadly, this also means that our region can be safely ignored for the next four years. That’s not effective representation for any of us, regardless of which party we support.

Under pro rep, each region would elect MLAs to both government and opposition, since each of the major parties enjoy significant support in all areas of the province. Pro rep would ensure that no areas of the province would be “frozen out” of power, as we find ourselves now.

There are many reasons why pro rep would benefit voters, but don’t expect our local MLAs to elaborate on them.

Gisela Ruckert, Kamloops

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