Letter: We all want our voice to count

To the editor,

Think of a hypothetical classroom of 36 students. Nine kids are very focused on book learning subjects, while another nine are more oriented towards gym-based sports. Some had a more extreme focus: Six liked only the sciences, two only math, three just baseball, two just soccer, one only theater, three just shop classes, and one solely on making huckleberry pie. If all 36 kids were forced to play sports all the time with no focus on academic study, or shop, or other interests, then these school kids would, overall, not be happy. The vast majority of the kids would not be getting what they really want. A similar situation would exist if the school became primarily focused on the intensive arts oriented study with none on gym, outdoor sports, or the other interests. Fortunately, the classroom is not run by a small ‘party’ via the First Past The Post system. Their benign dictator (Teacher) follows the protocols of a relatively balanced education system based on the broad-ranging needs of all children.

Given the valley’s current focus on elections, the hypothetical teacher decided to play politics with her students. They began with the system that adults in their province have used for a few generations. But having tried it, (the book learning studious kids won with a 17 vote majority) more than half of the class found the electoral system incredibly flawed. “What? No baseball?” Cried one. And another: “Not even time in the gym?” and another, “They are closing the shop!?” The theater arts student lamented arms crossed dramatically: “You must be joking.” Even the science lab had seen cutbacks, and one of them was irate about it.

Even though sport-oriented kids comprised more than 1/3rd of the class (with 14 votes), they were completely excluded from their choice to learn through exercise. The lack of inspiration drove statistics for illness and tardiness through the roof, and many were so disenchanted, they thought voting and the entire system was pointless. They decided to petition the entire class for a referendum so they could try another system. I mean why not? With 55% dissatisfied with the voting outcome, what did they have to lose? With that stat, they should and did win the referendum.

So, with a proportional representation system, everybody’s vote counted. While the class was not focussing on baseball, science, theater, soccer, math, or huckleberry pie, the desires of those kids were supported and the whole class was enriched through the experience of having those needs or desires given a proportional level of focus. Health care costs were reduced and overall happiness was increased dramatically.

I believe we may be able to learn something from such a hypothetical example, besides the fact that it is, by necessity, simplified to drive the point home: Vote Proportional Representation for a better crack at democracy.

We can always vote in the future to return to First Past The Post, if, on the remote chance, it doesn’t work out. What do we have to lose, except a system that many are dissatisfied with?

Rob Mercereau

Dunster, BC

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