Letter: Fringe parties and electoral reform

To the editor,

I find it strange that P.R. (Proportional Representation) has been equated with ‘fringe parties’, and thus extremists, such as Neo-Nazis.

P.R. allows a higher likelihood for smaller parties to gain a foothold in politics than F.P.T.P., true, but parties do not multiply uncontrollably under these systems. Mythbust here:  https://www.fairvote.ca/2014/11/05/multiplylikerabbits/

Consider the recent geopolitical and socio-economic situations that resulted in extreme politics in France and Germany.  Both populations would be declining without West Asian and African immigration, many of whom are Islamic and desperate enough to accept any available work.  Many live in ghettos that few French or Germans would enter.  Those German and French citizens with low skills and low education cannot afford high rents in a market with very low vacancy.  Regardless of politics, this is troublesome, but this tension is utilized by radicals to gain traction for anti-immigrant policy initiatives creating hateful directions for society.  This traction is further leveraged via xenophobia (or fear of the foreign)-again predominantly present with the less educated

On top of all of this, the rise of anti-immigrant or racist politics is not confined to ‘fringe parties’.  F.P.T.P. and a two-party system allowed the anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican/Latin American stance present in the U.S.’s Trump/Republican administration.  Despite a rising economy, these ideas gain traction due to relatively low levels of education, and the growing disparity between rich and poor coupled with desperate immigrants pitted against both urban and rural poor for low-paying jobs.

In B.C., we have one of the lowest unemployment rates, and strongest economies in Canada, which itself, globally, is highly employed and educated.  Our most downtrodden population is not our immigrants but our Indigenous population. Indigenous status is on the rise.  This may, subsequently, reveal antagonists who have otherwise remained silent about their racial prejudices toward our indigenous neighbors, but I have a feeling that they will not gain much traction given B.C.’s socio-economics, our large multicultural population, our high education rates, and our tendency to vilify such personas.

In short, I have strong doubts that we’ll see Fascists, Communists or other extreme parties in B.C.’s foreseeable future.  Or, we are at least as likely that such policies may rise under our present FPTP system should an unfortunate multiplicity of factors conspire in that direction.  Actually, with P.R., parties are forced to work together/ be more accountable.  It’s, therefore, less likely that a proportional system will give rise to extreme politics of either polarity.

Interestingly, where the B.C. Green’s hold a balance of power, solidifying NDP rule, the NDP was still able to push ahead both Kitimat’s LNG project and the Site C dam.  The Greens had no sway.

Look at the Voter’s Guide: A party must receive at least 5 % of the vote to be eligible to even gain a seat.

It is the true power, based on the actual interests of the voting population of the province, that I believe the Liberals and other detractors of P.R. fear.

In my opinion, fringe parties are not an issue.

Rob Mercereau

Dunster, B.C.

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