Referendum is confusing by design
You have to pity advanced education Melanie Mark who was knocking on doors in her Vancouver-Mount Pleasant neighbourhood to drum up support for proportional representation over this past weekend.
When a reporter asked Mark to explain how proportional representation would actually work, the minister said: “So I can’t speak to the outcome of what we’re shooting for. What I can speak to is there are three options that are going to be presented to the voters.” Like a deer in the headlights, Mark struggled to clarify: “With all due respect, I’m not an expert in this field. I do have a degree in political science, but I am not an expert in electoral representation.”
The fact is this referendum really is a mess and truly a pity for anyone interested in genuine electoral reform. If the advanced education minister can’t explain the difference between the three different models of proportional representation, then how are voters expected to make an informed vote? Referendums are usually held to gain a clear picture of public support for (or against) a certain issue. This usually involves a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question.
But this referendum question is anything but straightforward. That’s because the government only wants a rough idea of what people ‘think’ they want. What the NDP and the Greens are really shooting for is permission to axe our current system so they can design one on their own. I am talking about several dozen “details” that will have to be decided by a legislative committee dominated by NDP and Green Party MLAs AFTER the referendum is held.
Those minor details include such things as how many MLAs will be elected, what the political map of B.C. will look like by riding, and perhaps most important of all, whether or not political parties (or voters) actually get to choose who is going to be your MLA.
Make no mistake, this is a government that wants a blank cheque from voters to design a voting system to benefit themselves, take choice away from voters and simply hand it over to political parties. Please participate in this referendum and tell everyone that can vote to get out and exercise that right!
By Dan Davies, MLA for Peace River North