Pro Rep for Gabriola

Scott Colbourne

Guest Column

Wednesday, October 31 2018

Ballots are now arriving throughout BC for a mail-in referendum that could echange the way British Columbians elect our provincial government and representatives. 

The referendum runs until Nov. 30 and for the next three weeks, we’re going to look at the three proportional systems on offer.

But first: This is a two-part ballot and the initial question asks if we should keep First Past the Post, the current voting system, or move to Proportional Representation.

Pro Rep is not a counting system but a principle: Fair Vote BC defines it as “the percentage of seats a party has in the legislature reflects the percentage of people who voted for them.” If you get 39 per cent of the votes, you should get 39 per cent of the seats, not absolute majority power to act like a jerk (looking at you, Doug Ford). 

The second referendum questions asks us to pick a proportional vote counting system: Dual Member Proportional, Mixed Member Proportional or Rural-Urban Proportional. The most important thing to know is that all three are better than First Past the Post.  

This week, a brief primer on Dual Member, or DMP: In BC we elect Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from ridings, which are geographic areas. DMP will merge neighbouring pairs of ridings into two-Member regions (large rural ridings will remain single-Member). The first seat in each two-Member riding is won by the primary candidate of the party that receives the most votes, while the allocation of the second seat takes into account local and provincial results.

The ballot is simple -- one vote, just like the current system -- and we still get local representation. It’s a true win-win system for voters.