OP/ED: Local advocacy group applauds Clear Referendum Question
The Castlegar and Area Fair Vote Chapter, a local citizens group for proportional representation, welcomed the announcement today of the referendum question by Attorney-General David Eby.
“We’re pleased to have a clear question for the citizens of BC. Now we can get to work on reaching as many voters as possible in our community over the next six months,” says local leader Kathy Hartman.
The record response to the consultation – 91,000 – shows that BC voters care deeply about this issue, and the government responded with a question and regulations that reflect what they heard from citizens, experts and stakeholders.
“The referendum question is clear – this is a question of fairness to all voters. It’s a choice between the old system that works for lobbyists and insiders, and a modern system that works for voters.”
We commend the government for making these guarantees clear to voters:
● No significant increase in the size of the legislature.
● No region of the province having fewer MLAs than it currently has.
● No political party being eligible to receive a seat if they receive less than 5% of the overall vote in the province or region.
Voters can choose a fairer system knowing that these important values such as strong local and regional representation will be protected.
We are also pleased to see that the government has left the choice of preferred PR system to voters with three made-for-BC models. A two part question with a ranked ballot trusts BC voters form a consensus about what proportional system is the best system for them.
We are pleased that if proportional representation moves ahead, the exact details of the chosen system will be subject to an all-party committee where no one party has a majority of seats – informed by experts, Elections BC and the public.
All the systems on the ballot deliver strong local representation, more voter choice, fairer results, more cooperative politics and ensure that almost every voter can elect an MLA who reflects his or her values. All models ensure that every region of BC will have a stronger voice in our legislature, electing MLAs from both government and opposition. All models are easy for voters to use.
This referendum is ultimately a question of modernizing our voting system to make it fair. No party with 40% of the vote should be handed all of the power. Polls over 17 years show a strong majority of voters agree with this principle.
The local Fair Vote group is pleased that the regulations ban big money from the referendum. “BC voters are tired of seeing groups with deep pockets exercising undue influence over elections”, says Greg Powell. The current system works well for lobbyists and career politicians — self-interested groups who benefit from the status quo. Evidence shows that proportional systems work better for voters, which is why we see so many grassroots groups organizing to support this change.
“We want to make sure your vote means a government that works better for everyone. It’s time for a new kind of politics.”
For those who want to learn more, the local Fair Vote group is holding [a public info session in Castlegar Sunfest “pop-up” at the corner of 4th and Columbia during the Sunfest Parade. ] Also, Kathy Hartman will be happy to reply to emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.