Letter: On Liberty… and electoral reform

To the Editor,

In John Stewart Mill’s essay “Consider- ations on Representative Government”, Mills states that in true representative government, “A majority of the elec-
tors would always have a majority of the representatives, but a minority of the electors would always have a minority
of the representatives.” In our present system, the minority’s “… fair and equal share of influence in the representation is withheld from them, contrary to all just government, but, above all, contrary to the principle of democracy”.

In BC’s last election with FPTP (First Past The Post), the Liberals earned 20 of the 24 rural Interior and Northern seats with only 51% of votes! 49% had no representation. Joseph Nusse wrote in Oct 18th’s Goat that this is the result of the Liberals reaching a broad consensus of voters. Consensus, however, is a term that refers to everyone accepting and sup- porting a decision. A consensus is rarely achieved in politics and, in my opinion, is a huge stretch to use the term in regards to FPTP.

With the DMP (Dual Member Propor- tional) system the Liberal MLA’s in rural B.C. would be balanced by a voted pro- portional number of NDP MLA’s. With MMP, NDP supporters would have access to their member. Most people would actually have a representative in govern- ment that shares their values.

In B.C., at present 68% of ridings are considered “Safe Seats” -they always go to the same parties; FPTP assures them a majority win. With “Safe Seats”, a party can also parachute a member into a region that he or she will be guaranteed to win (like the Liberals did with former Premier Christy Clark in a 2013 Kelowna byelection ). As a contrast to Safe Seats, the main parties focus all of their time, money, and energy doing everything necessary to sway the vote in “Swing Rid- ings”, where there is a chance that the vote could go either way.

All of this politicking takes precedence over caring what the entire province or all constituents in a given riding want, or even being accountable to do what they, as candidates, say they will should they be elected. Consensus? Hardly. There are not even checks and balances, as many people who would have a voice through PR are completely silenced presently under FPTP.

Take the time to read the Voter’s Guide that should have arrived in your mailbox from Elections B.C.

If you are more inclined toward an interesting video on the subject, check out Elizabeth May’s 17 minute Ted Talk on Youtube: tinyurl.com/mayprorep

While I am no strong supporter of the NDP, I personally put my trust and faith in our Attorney General, David Eby, the former Executive Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, who also previously worked tirelessly in Vancou- ver’s Downtown Eastside with the Pivot Legal Society. He is the NDP MLA for Vancouver Point Grey. A summary of his report can be found online here: tinyurl.com/ebyreport

Rob Mercereau Dunster, BC

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