Wednesday, April 29, 2009

B.C. POLL: Liberals 42%, NDP 39% - Is that a mandate for a NDP Majority? First Past The Post says YES...

In the 1996 British Columbia election, the B.C. Liberals won 42% of the vote while the NDP won 39%. Unbelievably, that translated into a NDP majority with 39 out of 75 seats (the Liberals won 33 in that election, 2 Reform incumbents held their seats, as did one Progressive Democratic Alliance incumbent.) The NDP went on to govern for five more years.

With the Liberals and NDP at exactly the same levels of support in a poll released last night, it begs the question: what happens if another three-point lead translates, once again, into a defeat for the Liberals in the 2009 election?

If you lose the vote by 3 per cent, does that represent a mandate to govern with a majority? Under Winner-Take-All/First-Past-The-Post, the answer is an unfortunate YES. This is the problem with our existing system: it distorts voters' wishes.

Politicians and sleazy backroom types (like those running the NO-STV campaign in B.C.) like the current system because it hands them power even when they clearly don't deserve it (see the former NDP staffers like David Schreck who benefited from the crazy 1996 First-Past-The-Post result for examples.)

All B.C. Liberals should remember well what inspired them to explore the issue of electoral reform in the first place: the great need for a fairer system. Just in case First-Past-The-Post produces yet another crazy result this year, perhaps it's best to vote YES to BC-STV so that, in the future, the party with the most votes actually wins the election. Food for thought.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New TV ad for BC-STV! "Fair Results"

Check out this great new ad put out by the Yes to BC-STV side in the B.C. referendum to be held May 12th.

First-Past-The-Post is clearly a broken voting system that doesn't deliver representative legislatures in Canada. BC-STV represents the best chance for electoral reform in Canada. For more information, go to stv.ca. And congrats to the Yes side for this great ad.

Federal Liberals propose STV for electing national leaders: If it's good enough for Liberals, why isn't it good enough for Canadians?

At our national convention in Vancouver this week, federal Liberals will consider a proposal for changing how we elect national leaders.

"The one-member-one-vote proposal for choosing a party leader was narrowly defeated at the 2006 Liberal convention in Montreal, in 2006, however it's expected that it will be adopted this time around. The national executive has put forward a proposal whereby each riding association will be assigned 100 points and individual party members will rank their choices for leader on a single transferable ballot.

In each round of vote-counting, the candidate with the lowest number of points, which will be allotted according to percentage so that urban ridings with more members don't get more influence than rural ridings, will be dropped from the ballot and everyone who put that person as their first choice will then have their second choice counted. The vote-counting process continues until one candidate gets a majority of points nationally, and then that person becomes the leader."


To read more about this week's convention, please click here.

It's coincidental that Liberals will be considering this proposal in British Columbia, where a referendum on adopting the Single Transferable Vote in provincial elections is also being considered by voters.

There have been many Liberals who continue to oppose any opportunity to dump our antiquated, 'Winner-Take-All/First-Past-The-Post' voting system in Canada. Many of them will be present at the Vancouver convention, without a doubt. One wonders how these Liberals will vote on the proposal at the convention.

I have a few questions: If the Single Transferable Vote is good enough for electing a national leader and Prime Minister, why wouldn't it be good enough for electing our legislatures? How can those Liberals who are dead set against any type of proportional voting system for Canadians (because such systems might undermine their quest for power) then turn around and support a democratic provision like the one being proposed at the Vancouver convention?

Why don't those same Liberals who support First-Past-The-Post also support such a system for electing national leaders too? Or indeed local candidates? Wouldn't that be more efficient? Whoever leads on the first ballot would automatically win the leadership. Who needs majority support when you can grab power for yourself by simply winning the most votes? If you support First-Past-The-Post for all Canadians, why don't you also support it for Liberals?


Of course I ask these questions a bit in jest. I favour proportional voting that actually reflects how people voted. I also think 50 per cent plus one constitutes a majority, unlike others who favour First-Past-The-Post.

If one doesn't have majority support from voters, how can one be seen as legitimate? The truth is they can't. This principle has long been adopted by Liberals when it comes to electing leaders or candidates. Sadly, not as many Liberals have embraced the same principle when it comes to all voters electing legislatures. For them, a system designed to award complete power based simply on a plurality of support is good enough.

Sometimes even coming in second in the vote is enough to win total power under First-Past-The-Post. How can Liberals and others who support our existing voting system in Canada call themselves democrats? I'm truly not sure. If your lust for power and desire for a quick, convenient result trumps your support for fair, democratic representation, what does that say about you as a person? One has to wonder.

In any event, I truly hope the single transferable vote proposal of efficiently and fairly electing national leaders is passed this weekend in Vancouver.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Poll: 65 per cent of British Columbians support BC-STV

It appears that the pro-change side has a decisive lead with less than a month to go before British Columbians vote in the May 12th referendum/election. According to Angus Reid, 65% of B.C. voters intend to support BC-STV next month. Among those between ages 18 to 34, support runs at 74 per cent. The poll was conducted in March.

May's referendum marks the second time in four years in which British Columbians have the opportunity to fix their broken electoral system. In 2005, 58% of them voted for change, but thanks to the government-imposed 60% threshold, change was thwarted.

It's strange that 39% is enough to elect a majority government in B.C., while 59.9% isn't enough to change the electoral system. Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949 with just over 50% of the vote. Why do we continue to quietly accept this artificial 60% barrier imposed by partisan politicians who are clearly doing everything they can to keep the current system?

Regardless, if the Angus Reid poll is to be believed, supporters of fair voting may soon witness their first taste of major victory in Canada. No doubt, those on the No side who believe it's right for one party with fewer votes than the opposition to form a majority government, and those who love the idea of forcing a narrow agenda supported by a minority of voters down the throats of the majority, will find these poll numbers discouraging. If BC-STV is passed, backroom hacks and politicians who used to rely on safe seats and a divided opposition to slip through and win power and unchecked control for four or five years will have to re-think their game plan. Thus far, the No side in B.C. has seen fit to paint STV as too confusing for average voters. They're pointing to allegedly complicated counting processes as reason enough to keep our current system.

Of course, few dare to mention that the formula used to translate votes into seats under our existing system is wildly unpredictable at best. 40% of the vote could translate into both a large majority government, or see a party almost wiped out completely under our existing system.

Can you imagine if you placed an order at a drive thru for two hamburgers, two fries and two bottles of water - and instead when you got to the window, they handed you four fish pies and some asparagus? Would you be annoyed? Of course you would. Yet this is how our current voting system works. The voters head to the polls and vote one way - and the First-Past-The-Post system spits out something they didn't ask for. If BC-STV passes next month, this will never happen again at the provincial level in British Columbia.


I had always hoped with enough education that Canadians would see for themselves how terrible our existing First-Past-The-Post/Winner-Take-All system truly is - and that changing it as soon as possible must be a priority. I've contributed to the Yes to BC-STV campaign and I strongly encourage all supporters of change to do the same in order to keep this substantial lead intact for the May 12th vote. British Columbians have an opportunity to lead the nation next month. I'm hopeful they'll take it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Facebook group Liberals for BC-STV launched...

Liberal Party supporters in favour of the British Columbia - Single Transferable Vote option before B.C. voters in a referendum on May 12th (being held in conjunction with the provincial election) have launched a new Facebook group called 'Liberals for BC-STV.' Click here to link to the new group and join!

This site officially endorses BC-STV as the best option for improving democracy in our western-most province, which has seen its share of bizarre, distorted election results courtesy of our existing 'Winner-Take-All/First-Past-The-Post' system. In 1996, the NDP won a MAJORITY government in B.C. despite trailing the B.C. Liberals by three per cent in the popular vote. Then in 2001, the B.C. Liberals won 97% of the seats with just 58% of the vote. In the last election, 46% support for the B.C. Liberals handed that party 58% of the seats and 100% of the power.

So British Columbians are well aware of the flaws of our existing voting system! That's why that province's Citizens' Assembly recommended a change to BC-STV. For more on the great improvements that BC-STV will bring, click here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

BC REFERENDUM IS CRITICAL FOR ALL CANADIANS

A message from Roy Ball, British Columbians for BC-STV:

We need your help in British Columbia.

This week marks the start of the election campaign here and included on the ballot is a critical referendum on electoral reform. It's a rare second chance that we're getting because we got nearly 58% support in a referendum four years ago. However, the threshold was, and is, set at an unprecedented 60% of the vote. Your support could help push us over the top.

In Canada there is no place closer than BC to making change happen. If we win this referendum the momentum of electoral reform could sweep across the country. British Columbia would be the biggest jurisdiction in North America to adopt change and voters everywhere could see fair voting in action.

You can help make history by making a donation at http://www.stv.ca/support.

It won't be easy. Electoral reform has recently been defeated in PEI and Ontario. In each case the NO side launched misleading, negative, scare tactic campaigns. Here, their pollsters have already started testing fear-based messaging on our voters. Our opponents believe that if they can scare off voters here then electoral reform in Canada will stopped.

This time we will be better prepared for their attacks. Already we've got the momentum on the internet and have had thousands of people sign up at stv.ca to make a contribution or volunteer their time.

We're better organized. In 2005 BC referendum campaign, we had one part-time staff, very little organization across the province and around 200 active supporters. Today we have five full-time staff and thousands of active supporters throughout the province. We're also way ahead of our fundraising from last time and have internal polling showing momentum is on our side. Currently, we are polling slightly above the 60% threshold we need to win. BUT – the other side also has much more funding than in 2005 – we haven’t faced the half a million dollar negative ad campaign our opponents are planning for the end of the campaign. That's why we need your help today.

This race is extremely tight, so anything you can raise will significantly increase our chances to win. Please consider making a significant donation today - the timing has never been so critical.

Make a donation at http://www.stv.ca/support

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Best Regards,
Roy Ball
British Columbians for BC-STV
rballgp@imagotrackers.com

Please Support the BC Citizen's Assembly's Recommendation on Electoral Reform
On May 12 ... Vote for Better Democracy, Vote for BC-STV
http://www.stv.ca