We live in a first-past-the-post dictatorship

Writer says we need a modern voting system with proportional representation.

We live in one of the very best countries in the world. We have more freedoms and more benefits than almost any other people. Unfortunately, though, a few individuals are more equal than others. In fact, we live in a dictatorship. The cause is our voting system.

It works like this. First-past-the-post allows a minority of the popular vote (39 per cent for example in the last federal election) to result in a huge majority of that party’s members in government. The party leader then chooses a cabinet. That cabinet makes all decisions. Yes cabinet consults the caucus, the other party members on the government side; however, the caucus is “whipped” (told how they must vote). If the members do not obey, they are sent to the farthest backbenches, kicked out of the party, or simply give up in frustration.

Government affects every aspect of our personal lives: what we eat and wear; how we buy, sell or own something; how we communicate and travel; how we solve personal and community problems; when and where our children are educated, what they learn; how we are recompensed for wrongs. In sickness and health till death do us part and beyond, the government affects us. Isn’t it time we all had a voice in government?

Proportional representation will give everyone that voice. I am alarmed at the choice of proportional systems and the complex explanations presented by Minister Donaldson. Marjoritarian is arcane and less fair than first-past-the-post. Closed list proportional which allows members to sit in government without being elected has no place in a democracy.

Minister Donaldson might have explained that local proportional or flexible district proportional can be specifically tailored by Elections BC to retain local representation, accountability and geographical balance. No one will lose their MLA but almost all voters would have at least one MLA with their own values. He might have explained that coalition governments are more stable, not less, because more points of view bring innovation and cooperation brings longer term solutions than those made with the next election in mind. Civility and thoughtful debate result when candidates know they may have to work side by side.

No one with power wants to relinquish it. In two-party situations the powerful on both sides want to keep the status quo. It is to be hoped that grassroots British Columbians will see past the rhetoric and choose a modern voting system in which each vote counts.

Nancy Leathley

Sechelt, B.C.

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