A better way of voting?

Talk will look at advantages of proportional representation in light of upcoming BC referendum.

  • Jun. 8, 2018 4:30 p.m.

Warren Bell

Salmon Arm residents will get a chance to hear more about proportional representation before B.C. is asked to vote on it this fall.

On Saturday, June 16 at 1 p.m., in a talk entitled Renewing Democracy, Warren Bell will be explaining the difference between the current first-past-the-post system (FPTP), and the proposed proportional representation (PR) system.

With a referendum coming up this fall regarding how British Columbians vote, Bell will giving an overview of the advantages of PR . The referendum will be conducted through a mail-in ballot, with two questions expected, in keeping with recommendations from the attorney general’s ministry. It must take place no later than Nov. 30.

Bell says FPTP favours political insiders and big parties, while the latter favours voters.

“FPTP usually generates a government which represents less than 50 per cent of voters, while PR always represents a majority of voters,” he states.

The systems being proposed in the government’s May 30 announcement will include regional representation without significantly increasing the size of the legislature, he adds. Under the proposed PR systems, no party will receive extra ‘top-up’ seats if it receives fewer than five per cent of of the total number of votes. This is intended to keep fringe parties from gaining a seat.

“PR will inspire voters now discouraged from voting to participate and exercise their franchise, because there will be a marked increase in the probability that their vote will contribute to a candidate they approve of being elected; this has been demonstrated repeatedly around the world. It probably means that there will be an increased number of young voters, and consequently a more future-oriented system of governance.”

Bell also says research has shown that “PR encourages cooperation between political parties, tones down the poisonous partisan opposition-bashing that characterizes much political interaction, and leads to more stable policies with no wild shifts from one regime to another. It also provides better economic outcomes with generally lower debt loads in PR countries, and greater attention to environmental issues because these issues are important to voters, but not always to governments, who are beholden to large blocs like mega-corporations, large unions or other interest groups.”

The recent consultation on voting in B.C. held by the B.C. government earned a record of more than 90,000 responses.

Bell will be speaking in the Mall at Piccadilly at the Salmon Arm branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.


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