Wonderfully robust debate

What a wonderfully robust debate swirls around the pro rep question.

We are formally challenged to consider changing B.C.’s election system.

There is some devilry at play in any democracy – “the worst of all systems except for all the others," quipped Winston Churchill.

Better the devil we know is a common phrase given play in defence of the status quo.

First past the post plainly depicts the status quo, and proportional representation plainly depicts an alternative.

The devil we know is a FPTP system that delivers governments where the actual vote takes a back seat to outcomes in our 87 districts. The party that wins in more districts than the others gets 100 per cent control even with as little as 35 per cent of the popular vote.

The devil we don’t know is PR. We know it is a system at work in Scotland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and elsewhere. We know that it turns out governments in which the different political parties tend to work harder to sort through legislation.

In a proportional system, sudden sharp shifts in policy are less common. Voters don’t have to “burn down the house to clean the carpets” as one commentator put it. The balance of power shifts between parties who are continuously challenged to work together to get things done. Negotiation and compromise are the watchwords.

The referendum options are set out in our mail-in ballots.

As usual, watch out for statistical subterfuge, fear mongering, bandwagons, special interests, conspiracy theorists and political hack packs.

Consider that both leading B.C. parties have presented the proportional representation alternative over the past 20 years. Evidently, both see something worthwhile in it.

Dig as much as you can here and there to inform your referendum vote. Whichever way you vote, get your ballot
included before Nov. 30.

Dave Cursons, Cawston

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