I am a liberal and I have no home in BC politics.
I could never stand the wacky, right-wing, fantasyland SoCreds, so I was excited about the BC Liberal revival in the 1990s. That quickly soured when they lost the 1996 election—despite winning the popular vote—and swung right to win in 2001. They became completely unpalatable to me during Christy Clark’s mean-spirited time in office. But I cannot vote BC NDP; labour’s domination of that party really puts me off. So, I am a lost-in-the-middle liberal, politically homeless in BC.
To say I am cynical about our current First Past the Post (FPTP) system is an understatement. In our last election, I voted BC Green, even knowing it was a throw away vote in my riding. Many people from across the political spectrum who don’t want to “waste” their vote find themselves regularly voting not for the party they want, but the lesser of two evils, holding their noses to vote for big-tent parties that almost always disappoint them.
Proportional Representation (Pro Rep) will change that.
The BC Liberals might separate into true Conservatives and true Liberals (or be replaced by some other name if they can’t adapt). BC Greens will likely strengthen somewhat, poaching from the BC NDP and liberals like me. The BC NDP might lose a few to the BC Greens and a true Liberal party. Regardless of how it plays out, we will all be able to vote for the party we believe in, knowing it will have some influence in forming government.
Then, after a Pro Rep-based election, all parties will have to work with each other to form a governing coalition. That might be a Conservative / Liberal coalition, or Liberal / Green, or Green / NDP. Whatever it is, there will be compromises to put it together—parties and leaders will benefit more from working together rather than slagging each other. The agreements they reach will be out in the open, not the backroom handshakes that currently hold the ‘big tent’ parties together.
Many political watchers in BC lament ‘policy lurch’, our regular swings from left to right, where the incoming government spends their first year—and a lot of our tax dollars—undoing the work of their predecessor. With Pro Rep, we are more likely to see a shifting around near the centre as coalitions form and reform based on the popular vote. Pro Rep should end, or at the very least decrease, radical policy lurch.
Many of the people campaigning against Pro Rep seem more interested in protecting the power of their parties, or the special interests that have been so well-served by those parties, rather than empowering voters. I am focused on voters finally getting to vote for what they believe in rather than the lesser of two evils.
I will vote for proportional representation.
Michael Davis has campaigned at all three levels of government and served as Director of Communications for Canada’s Minister of Justice.