Why Support BC's Electoral Reform?

November 17th, 2018  | J. Hodgson
bc proportional

On November 30, the people of British Columbia will find out if their elections are going to remain the way they’ve been for generations, or if a new… more European-styled system of voting will arrive instead.

The traditional system of voting is “First Past the Post”, in which he who has the most votes wins. The potential replacement system will be some form of “Proportional Representation”, in which the popular vote reflects the way power is distributed. Which system is better? Depends what you mean by better?

The main criticism of FPTP is that a political party can win an election without a majority vote. Someone like Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party can take total control of Canada, even though they only won 39.47% of the vote. (This result is from a total population with a voter turnout of only 68.3%) Therefore most of the people did not support this outcome. Most people do not support Justin Trudeau.

Proportional Representation would more accurately reflect the voting public’s intentions by assigning power to parties based on their popular support. There are a variety of details regarding this, but this is ultimately how it works.

Leftists like the NDP and especially the Green Party are for this change. They typically have more support in terms of vote share than they end up receiving in terms of seats won. Conservatives tend to resist this format for precisely the same reason, although regional specificity regarding who people vote for as individuals is usually cited as the real reason. (It’s not)

If you’ve been reading Poletical for any length of time you know that we’re a conservative-flavoured site with unconventional thinking. It shouldn’t surprise you to know that I believe conservatives should support changing British Columbia’s electoral system. Here’s why…

1. There are more conservatives out there than you think

Many conservatives in British Columbia hold their nose and vote Liberal. It’s generally understood that the Liberal Party of British Columbia is a coalition of old Social Creditors (less so today than ever), federal Conservative Party of Canada supporters and centre-right liberals. This coalition is just an anti-NDP coalition and it alienates many strident conservatives that don’t want to hold their nose and vote for a soft-right party. Polling often shows support for British Columbia’s Conservative Party ranging in the 5-10% region…that is until an election is called. Then people fear an NDP government and lend their vote to the Liberal Party and support collapses.

With PR in place, conservatives could actually vote conservative and their vote would actually count.

2. PR would likely always produce gridlock

Government is a problem, not a solution. If conservatives can’t have a decent conservative government, then a gong-show filled with inertia and gridlock is a good second choice. Hardly any political party can win a majority in PR, and this would require a ton of coalition building and instability. Conservatives should embrace this and make the most of it.

3. It would better reflect democracy

British Columbia (and Canada) for that matter would look a lot different if our governments reflected the nature of the people. FPTP stamps out a lot of views and opinions and values that aren’t considered acceptable within the Overton Window. Bigger, broader political parties that try to be everything to everyone push out the little parties that are more specific and focused. This disconnect gives us a ruling class that is naturally out of touch with the people they govern. PR would more accurately produce electoral outcomes regarding the will of the voter by allowing the voter more choice.

4. Conservatives could vote conservative without having their vote discarded

In the last federal election, I voted for the Christian Heritage Party. I knew my vote wouldn’t matter as my riding votes for Conservative candidates without fail. 

So in 2015, I threw my vote away in a protest against Stephen Harper’s cuckservative direction. Did it matter? No, it didn’t, but under PR it would’ve. Under PR you will be able to vote for a variety of flavours of conservatism and have it actually matter. British Columbia already has a Libertarian Party, a Reform Party, a British Columbia Christian Heritage Party, the Refederation Party (former Western separatism!), and the right-wing, British Columbia Party. It’s a dog’s breakfast of fringy, weird right-wingers… all waiting for representation!

We’ll need them to fight off the Communist Party of British Columbia, along with the NDP and Greens of course.

5. It will further degrade democracy

Democracy is a horribly flawed system and producing a new brand of more truly representative direct democracy will illustrate these flaws to normal people who unthinkingly accept the status-quo.

As we move into the 21st century, we’re likely going to need to begin adopting whatever comes after democracy in order to more effectively compete with the efficiency and power of autocratic systems like China and Russia. Showcasing the gong-show that is true direct democracy will help further along the development of something better. If we can tinker with the system once, we can tinker with the system twice.

So, get your voting packages filled out and throw them in the mailbox soon! Time is running out. The tally will be counted on November 30.