Former attorney general Suzanne Anton is leading the charge against proportional representation. (file photo)

The argument for “no” on proportional representation

First past the post is easy to understand, and leads to stable and successful democracies.

Editor’s note: The Citizen asked representatives from the “yes” and “no” sides in the provincial referendum on whether or not to change our voting system from first past the post to proportional representation a series of questions to help voters get a clearer picture of the pros and cons. Suzanne Anton answered the questions for the “no” side.

1. Why is first past the post better?

First past the post is easy to understand, and leads to stable and successful democracies.

Voters directly elect all their representatives. Under PR, some are chosen off party lists or through yet-undefined algorithms

We have 87 separate elections in B.C. It is the total of those elections, reflecting the will of voters province-wide, which decides who forms government.

PR people like to talk about process (40 per cent of vote = 40 per cent of seats etc.), but rarely do they talk about product.

PR countries have a difficult time forming government and in all of the northern European democracies, extremist parties are gaining a foothold.

We should not invite those problems into B.C., which has a stable and successful democracy.

For background, have a look at the problems Sweden is having at the moment: https://www.economist.com/europe/2018/11/17/sweden-fails-to-form-a-government

2. Give an example of a country where proportional representation has not worked

I would be hard pressed to give you an example of where it’s working well. Ask Europeans of your acquaintance — they are almost universal in saying we should not change the system in B.C.

Have a look at this article: https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/11/10/How-Proportional-Representation-Empowers-the-Far-Right/

3. How will this affect the average British Columbian?

Most people in PR countries cannot understand how the MLAs are chosen. Everyone understands now.

Instability of government, lack of government, and rise of extremism hurt all of us.

4. B.C. has rejected proportional representation twice in the past, why ask again?

Because Greens have made it a condition of their support. It’s unclear whether most NDP MLAs actually want a change.

5. Do British Columbians have enough information to answer the question?

No. All three of the systems on offer are undefined, except in broad terms. No one in B.C. can understand them.

The selections and options are confusing and, in our view, should be rejected.

Suzanne Anton QC

Director, No BC Proportional Representation Society

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