I would like to submit a rebuttal to Mr. Bennett’s letter in the Oct. 10 edition, entitled “Pro Rep means and end of majorities.”
I must admit his letter caught me quite off guard because I expected from the title that the letter would be in support of Pro Rep. I am personally greatly in favour of Proportional Representation for the explicit reason that it will mean an end to majority governments.
Mr. Bennet’s letter contained a great deal of misinformation about what happens when a minority government is in power. His statement that they tend to cater to “vocal special interests” could not be farther from the truth. In fact, majority governments in B.C. have shown a much higher frequency of catering to special interest groups, usually the groups that supplied them with the most campaign funds.
A majority government in an FPP system is, quite frankly, not answerable to the people. And because we live in a multiparty system, those parties that get elected with a majority typically win the Legislature or House with 40 per cent of the popular vote or less. Once they have a majority, they are free to pass whatever legislation they like to satisfy their backers, and only need to put forth the pretence of being answerable to the public in the year or so leading up to an election.
A minority government, on the other hand, must cross partisan boundaries. They must find allies in other parties to get legislation passed, which means that they must consult with elected officials representing a larger portion of the public. This is democracy at work.
Mr. Bennett also touted the great accomplishments made under a majority government. He has obviously forgotten that Medicare, CPP, Canada student loans, a federally legislated minimum wage, the 40 hour work week, and the OAS pension plan were all brought in under federal minority governments. And before we go trumpeting the accomplishments of majority governments, let’s not forget that they also brought us the GST. We can also look east to Ontario and Quebec and the political train wreck in progress there for confirmation on the inherent flaws of our current system.
We must also look at who is the most consistently vocal in their opposition to ProRep to get the best idea of whether it’s the best system for us.
The BC Liberal Party and those closely tied to it have been the most vociferous in their objection to this system because it will make it more difficult for them to regain power. The Liberals have a rich history in gaming the electoral system in this province, and a FPP system will make it more difficult for them to do so.
Only in the 2001 election did the Liberals actually win a majority government with a true majority of the popular vote (57 per cent of the vote won them 77 of the 79 seats). Every year afterwards that they held onto their majority, they did so with 45 per cent of the popular vote or less. This is “special interest” at its worst.
A party that wins less than half of the majority of the public’s votes should not have the freedom to do as they please with a majority in the Legislature.
If you want your government to actually work for you, vote for a system that will force them to do so. Vote yes on Proportional Representation.