Vote to upgrade democracy — for people and the planet
Vote to upgrade democracy — for people and the planet

A lifelong resident of British Columbia, I’ve always found a lot to be grateful for whenever I return from travelling. Our oceans and mountains are some of the most beautiful in the world and our communities showcase many examples of cooperation and innovation.

This collaborative spirit, along with my passion for the wellbeing of people and our planet, is why I’m a strong supporter of proportional representation (Pro Rep) and will vote for it this month.

This vote is an amazing opportunity to have a voice on an issue that will deeply impact our society, even more than voting for a candidate. This vote is also a celebration of society appreciating the impact of more direct forms of democracy and the effects these system changes can have on issues like global warming and systemic poverty.

As a woman in technology who has launched and led several social impact ventures, I know the importance of collective decision making that engages all stakeholders fairly and meaningfully—it’s the best way to get things done in a startup environment!

 Like so many of my millennial peers, I’ve also experienced frustration and disenchantment with a political process that makes meaningful participation so challenging, where I can’t easily connect the ballot I cast with the issues I truly care about.

A vote for Pro Rep will empower all British Columbians to engage more meaningfully in our democracy and see their ballot box choices reflected in the makeup of our legislature. A broader range of voices—different perspectives from all regions of our province with important viewpoints, rather than the adversarial two-party sweeps we have now—will make sure the concerns of all British Columbians are heard as future governments formulate policy. 

Improving collective decision making got me into the innovation sector and drives my passion for these changes. Part of the founding team of Ethelo Decisions, I’ve watched decision technology allow stakeholders to prioritize, rank, and make trade-offs on complex issues in ways that still reflect their true sentiments.  

“Inequity aversion,” is a behavioural science phenomenon whereby stakeholders will support a decision more if the process is perceived as fair, even if it’s not exactly what they desired.

 Innovation companies such as ThoughtExchange in Rossland, Hylo in the Silicon Valley, and Liquid Democracy in New Zealand all take on group engagement from different angles, with a focus on uniting people in more intelligent ways.

 Pro rep is a more nuanced form of collective decision-making in step with these trends in innovation. It also steps us away from the extreme views and policies that accompany more binary or two-partied systems, like the U.S.A..

 Values of fairness and participation edge me towards voting for pro rep but the global evidence of outcomes on issues I care about convinces me.

 For example, the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures standard of living, life expectancy and knowledge, indicates seven countries have overtaken Canada in the past 25 years—all have Pro Rep.

 Other examples suggest a strong correlation between Pro Rep and better environmental management. New Zealand and Australia are major greenhouse gas producers. As Australian climate policy changes with each new leader, New Zealand’s Pro Rep system and collaborative parliament has a cross-party group of 35 backbench representatives that recently released a comprehensive roadmap for transition to a low emissions economy.

 Here in the Sea to Sky region, I’ve discovered firsthand just how strong the values of social cohesion and sustainable living are. I believe people in many regions have more to gain from Pro Rep than first meets in eye.

 Those with vested interests in the current system may find it hard to imagine bringing more voices into the conversation. However, the strength of democracy lies in diversity and inclusion. Radical inclusion should be a core tenet of how we move forward in this province.

 To me, this referendum isn’t about electoral reform or which of the three Pro Rep options we choose. It ‘s about our commitment to social progress. It is about embracing new approaches for a brighter future.

 Michelle Martin

Partner, Whole Human Ventures

Co-organizer, Whistler Entrepreneur Alliance