Come Halloween our thoughts turn to scary monsters of all sorts.
Here’s a democracy monster for you: First Past the Post (FPTP). FPTP is our current system of democracy, where MLAs are elected by a majority of votes in 87 ridings across the province.
We claim the foundation of our society is representative democracy, that our highest principal is one person one vote, and those votes translate into MLAs, our representatives in the halls of power.
Except they don’t.
The truth is BC’s electoral system hands overwhelming majorities of MLAs to a party from an underwhelming minority of voters. Then the MLAs hand all that power to a premier and his hand-chosen cabinet.
Those MLAs not chosen for the inner circle hurl insults at each other for the next four years, trying to curry favour with said premier in hopes of joining the chosen few in cabinet
Most ridings in the province are safe, that is they vote overwhelmingly in favour of one party or the other, so they may be safely ignored during elections. Only swing seats, those that flip back and forth are targeted, the rest be damned
This monstrous system incites wedge politics, expensive baubles to swing ridings, and apathy and despondency in the rest of voters who are mostly ignored.
Only a few can love this ugly monstrosity: those who head the parties the system regularly bestows power upon. The special interests that know how to game the system or can hire those that do. They love this monster so much they will publicly distort, and fear monger and mislead to protect their hideous horror.
They say FPTP is simple, that it has worked, that anything else is scary.
They carefully ignore the grotesque truth at the centre of their dreadful system: it is fundamentally undemocratic.
Proportional representation—any one of the three models on offer—will slay the monster. 40% of the popular vote across the province will actually win 40% of the seats in the legislature. All seats will be in play, all votes will matter. Parties will have to work together; the influence of special interests will decline in the competition for all votes.
Let’s slay this Frankensteinian mess and move to true democracy. Let’s vote for proportional representation and get a system that works for all of us.
Michael Davis has campaigned at all three levels of government and served as Director of Communications for Canada’s Minister of Justice.