Thursday, March 6, 2008

Vancouver Sun: Lopsided Alberta vote underscores B.C.'s unfinished electoral work

The Vancouver Sun reflects on the recent lopsided election result in Alberta and how it illustrates the need to re-examine how we elect our governments in Canada.

"[Alberta Premier Ed] Stelmach's efficient leverage of a minority of the potential popular vote into a sizeable majority is a potent reminder for British Columbians of the unfinished business we face in the next provincial election. In addition to voting for a new government, we are getting another chance to vote on whether to change our electoral system to one under which lopsided victories such as the one in Alberta would be less likely to occur...

"BC-STV fell just short of the required approval threshold in 2005. Proponents complained that there was no budget for an education campaign to explain how it would work and many voters were simply confused by the apparent complexity of the system. This time the province has budgeted $1.5 million for an education campaign, to be shared in part with "Yes" and "No" forces, but a significant hitch has developed in the electoral boundary reform process that was to have illustrated how an STV system would carve up the province.

"Unless members of the legislature are able to forge a compromise that will rescue the politically unpalatable recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, voters will face another vote on whether to change the system while still uncertain as to how it will look in their home communities.

"That would be a shame -- a waste of thousands of hours of work by the Citizens' Assembly and millions of dollars invested in the Electoral Boundaries Commission."


Skinny Dipper said...

I do hope that if the BC Electoral Commission cannot propose STV boundaries, then the YES STV side should.

I also suggest that the YES side start fundraising now. It will be too late during the referendum campaign. Mind you, every cent helps. It's just better to have it earlier.

Finally be ruthless with the opponents because they will be ruthless with STV.

Matt Guerin said...

I agree wholeheartedly, skinny. We saw how nasty and underhanded the opponents of change could be in Ontario last time - reading about BC's experience in 2005, it's almost carbon copy the same. The difference seems to be BC is more willing to experiment with change, more aware of the downsides of "Winner Take All", especially after the 1996 election where the 2nd place party won a majority, followed by the Libs winning 98% of the seats in 2001 with only 58% of the vote.

I also think that STV is the better option with fewer downsides than MMP. People don't want to create new tiers of MLAs and MMP does that. STV is the best option for proportional voting.

It seems the mistakes of 2005 might be corrected somewhat if the Yes and No sides get some funding for the campaign. But yes I agree the Yes side in BC should start fundraising now. I might donate some money, I think. And be ruthless and prepared for the onslaught we unfortunately walked into in Ontario.