September 20 2018

Joerge Dyrkton: Letter: B.C. referendum ballot biased

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The Editor,

The provincial electoral-reform referendum is biased. Note the absence of the independent Citizens Assembly that administered the provincial referenda of 2005 and 2009.

Instead of one question, there are two, which is a way of circumventing the provincial law that declares that a majority vote is necessary to bring about particular electoral reform. Do I foresee a Supreme Court challenge in the future?

The first ballot question asks for a simple choice between our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system or “A proportional representation voting system” (PR). Is this not like being handed a blank cheque if you dislike FPTP?

The second ballot question asks to rank your preferences from a selection of three choices if PR is successful. These options are: dual-member proportional (DMP), mixed-member proportional (MMP), and rural-urban proportional (RUP). Confused?

Surely, if you voted for FPTP in the first ballot question, then you would be less inclined to vote in the second ballot question. And I wonder whether my vote spoiled if I answer the first but not the second question.

In all, there are four choices for PR and one for FPTP, which suggests that electoral reform is already tending towards an outcome.

Instead of supplying the public with tried and tested PR choices for British Columbians, two such options on offer, DMP and RUP, have never before been implemented anywhere in the world.

The only plausible PR alternative is MMP, where the balance of proportional candidates are selected from a party list. Because the other two PR choices are purely experimental, the NDP government likely favours MMP but, in the meantime, it sows unnecessary public confusion and plays by subterfuge. Why not just have a clear vote between FPTP an MMP as alternatives?

Surely provincial electoral reform could be brought to public consideration in a more transparent and fair manner. What we have now is disproportionate representation.

But even more importantly, voters should know that referenda are dangerous instruments that can over-rule the sovereignty of our legislative assembly.

The solution: tell your MLA that you think the vote is illegitimate and that it should be rescinded.

Joerge Dyrkton, Anmore


Original article can be found here.