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Proportional representation turns representation over to political parties, and we lose accountability altogether.

Lorna Pawluk | October 25, 2018 | Vancouver Sun

In a recent op-ed, associate professor Dennis Pilon of Toronto’s York University — a proportional representation advocate — claims that the NDP government in British Columbia is “bending over backwards to offer B.C. a fair referendum process.” Local proportional representation advocates attempt to make the same argument. But how can it be fair when you don’t know what you’re voting for?

While both the Greens and the NDP included proportional representation in their campaigns, neither committed to a particular form of it. The NDP promised a simple ballot with a yes/no choice between the current system and a well-defined new system.

Even before the ink dried on the agreement between the Greens and NDP, the NDP took steps to ensure that the vote would support proportional representation so as to keep the Greens’ support. The Greens need proportional representation to solidify their foothold in the legislature. They can’t get many candidates elected because very few ridings want them, so they want to change the election system instead.

Premier John Horgan’s online poll early in the Green-NDP pact clearly favoured pro-rep. Few people, even ardent proponents, defended the survey as balanced or impartial. With its answers skewed toward proportional representation, the questionnaire raised early concerns about the fairness of the process.

Voters are being asked in the first part of the ballot to choose between our known current system and the concept of proportional representation. This is an odd choice, but the real problems arise in the second part of the ballot, where voters are invited to choose their favourite proportional representation system.

Voters are asked to rank three different options: dual-member proportional (DMP); rural-urban proportional (RUP) and mixed-member proportional (MMP). DMP and RUP have not been tried anywhere else and MMP takes a variety of forms in countries where it is used.

No one in B.C. can answer this part of the ballot with full understanding, as none of the three systems is fully developed.

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