1. Why is proportional representation better?
Currently, we have a system in B.C. and across Canada that creates the conditions where a government with 100 per cent of the power is typically elected by 40 per cent of voters. This undermines democracy, which is fundamentally meant to deliver governments based on the will of the majority.
The systems of proportional representation proposed on the ballot all keep local representation, so people would have a local MLA, just as we have today, but they also deliver proportional outcomes in the Legislature.
Over 90 democracies use proportional representation, including 85 per cent of OECD nations. In research of 36 democracies conducted over 55 years, proportional representation systems produce higher surpluses and lower debts, less inequality, better environmental records, higher youth voter turnout, and have fewer policy lurches
2. Give an example of a country where proportional representation has worked
New Zealand voted in a referendum to switch to proportional representation in 1996.
In New Zealand, the switch to MMP has shifted the political culture, resulting in stable, majority coalition governments.
3. How will this affect the average British Columbian?
British Columbians would be confident that a minority of voters would no longer be able to deliver 100 per cent of power to one party.
In addition, every British Columbian will be able to go to the polls knowing their vote will go to elect someone who will represent their views and values in the legislature. They will no longer have to vote strategically or worry about vote-splitting.
4. B.C. has rejected proportional representation twice in the past, why ask again?
I think there is a greater sense of urgency for change, looking at what is happening in other First Past the Post democracies like the United States and the United Kingdom. Here in Canada, the Doug Ford government won 40 per cent of the vote, and is enacting legislation and policies that do not represent the views of the majority in Ontario. In Quebec, the CAQ won a majority with 37 per cent of the vote.
5. Do British Columbians have enough information to answer the question?
There is information provided by Elections BC, the “Yes” and “No” sides, research centres, and at community meetings.
Sonia Furstenau, Green Party
MLA for Cowichan Valley