Letter: The downside of ‘safe ridings’

No party need pay much attention to us come election time.

Letter: The downside of ‘safe ridings’

Mr. Bodkin’s letter of July 18 highlighted one of the main problems with our current voting system, and a good reason for voters in Vernon Monashee to support proportional representation in the upcoming referendum (mail-in ballot Oct 22-Nov 30). We are one of the 59 ridings out of 87 in the province considered “safe.”

In other words, no party need pay much attention to us come election time, candidates from the traditional winning party may see no need to attend all-candidate meetings, voters may see no point in voting. We are taken, and take ourselves, for granted. How is this representative democracy? Especially when 51 per cent of voters did not vote for our current MLA.

In response to Mr. Bodkin’s question about accountability, one could argue that MLAs from safe ridings, either Liberal or NDP, do not need to put their constituents ahead of their party. Their election or appointment as party candidate is what counts. Interestingly, out of 8,000 votes cast by MLAs in the last legislature, only five went against the party line. This supports the argument that MLAs are loyal to a party, not constituents. The last 15 of 17 governments were given a majority of seats by a minority of voters, again supporting the argument that the party in power is not accountable to a majority of voters. With proportional representation, there would be no safe seats as almost every vote would elect a local or proportional candidate.

All three proportional representation systems on the referendum ballot will keep local representation and then add proportionality in somewhat different ways. Just like our current system, the candidates on the ballot will be chosen by the party, and voters will vote on those candidates. In all three systems, proportional candidates will have to run in a riding.

Please do not take my word for it. Read the Attorney General’s Referendum Report and Recommendations, the Fair Vote Canada pr4bc systems website which also links videos and shows sample ballots for each of the three systems, and keeps an eye on the Elections BC website for more information.

And attend a factual presentation on the reasons why a proportional system makes sense for British Columbians in general, and voters in the Okanagan specifically. Aug. 8 and 22, 7 p.m. at the Vernon Public Library.

Sue Young

Fair Vote Vernon (non-partisan, evidence-based, volunteer, and citizen-led)