Letter: ignore the hype and vote

“Claims made by either side are often entirely contradictory. Who do you trust?”

Editor,

Referendum ballots have arrived in the mailboxes of many British Columbians. Do you know which way you’re voting?

Before New Zealand adopted Proportional Representation in the 1990s, there was a popular cartoon that said: “Want a good reason for supporting Pro Rep? Look at the people who are telling you not to.”

The same logic could apply here. There’s so much hype flying around that voters might conceivably have a hard time deciding which system to choose. Claims made by either side are often entirely contradictory. Who do you trust?

The fact is that the interests of citizens and political insiders are not aligned on this issue. Giving voters more power and more choice through Pro Rep isn’t good for those who currently benefit from the distortions of First Past the Post. Opponents have launched ads featuring goose-stepping soldiers, suggesting Nazis are going to pop out from every hedge if we change our voting system. Fearmongering is the approach they’ve chosen to take. Tellingly, the picture of “volunteers” on the ‘No to PR’ website is a purchased stock photo. Seriously.

On the Yes to Pro Rep side we have ordinary citizens with nothing to gain but a vote that counts. We are your neighbours and colleagues – real people who have read the research and are willing to put endless hours into volunteering for the cause. We want to see a more co-operative legislature and a more inclusive electoral system where far more voters get an MLA who shares our values. Countries using Pro Rep tend to get higher economic growth, better social indicators, and improved environmental performance. To suggest that the sky will fall if BC gives it a whirl we adopt is ludicrous.

Far from being an experiment, more than 80 countries use proportional voting systems, including nine of the top 10 economic performers in the developed world. The United States, Canada and the UK are the only major western democracies still using First Past the Post. We’re being given a chance to try Pro Rep for two terms, and then decide whether to keep it or go back to First Past the Post. We have lots to gain in this referendum, and very little to lose.

Democracies evolve – 100 years ago, I’d be fighting for women’s right to cast a ballot! I hope that you will join me in supporting Pro Rep. This is important. Please mail in your ballot in support of proportional representation.

Gisela Ruckert,

Team leader, Fair Vote Kamloops, and president, Fair Vote Canada B.C.

Kamloops, B.C.

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