After seeing the abysmal turnout for the recent municipal elections — a provincial average of 36 per cent — what can we expect from the upcoming proportional representation referendum? Especially since it’s a mail-in ballot?
How many people are actually going to open the package, read it, answer the two phase questions, repack it and mail it back?
Now mailing is no big deal, you say. But I am someone who has a six step process for mailing a package.
Let me explain. Say someone — one of my kids most likely — forgets something when they visit. No problem you say, mail it back to them. And I do. Eventually.
Step one, find the item and put it in a place where you will remember to grab it when you leave for work.
Step two, the package is in your car. It will likely remain there for a day or two, but soon you will be at step three.
Step three, bring it into office, and place it where the item can stare balefully at you, whispering “pack me, mail me”.
Step four. Find a box. This is why you bring the item to work, as the office is a better source of boxes than your home.
Step five. Pack the box, wrap it and address it. This is a complex step and may take more than one day.
Step six. Get the box out of the office and to the post office. I advise walking to the post office because if you put it back in your car, this adds another couple of steps to the process.
As you can see, following my steps, you will have the package mailed in no more than ten days. Well, depending on when you commence with step one.
You could also take my sister’s approach to mailing forgotten items, which is, come and visit me again and you can have it back.
In any event, your referendum packages are now in the mail — rotating postal strikes aside — or should be. And you don’t have to pack them in a box to return them, so you’ve already eliminated some steps. If you haven’t received one by the end of next week, you should be inquiring where yours is. (elections.bc.ca/ovr or calling 1-800-661-8683)
You will have until the end of November to return your ballot. Elections BC is not expecting Canada Post rotating strikes to be a problem, so… okay. Not sure how they know that, but good on them.
The debate on whether to go with pro-rep or stick with first past the post has been fierce, and of course, in this age where everything has to fall on one side of the political divide or other, the various political parties in the province have taken their positions.
The NDP and Green Party are for pro-rep. The BC Liberals are very much against it.
In a nutshell, as explained by Tom Fletcher of Black Press, the existing first past the post system tends to favour larger parties and majority governments. Proportional representation makes it easier for small parties to win seats, and coalitions or agreements are usually needed before a government can be formed. Constituencies are usually larger and multi-member.
The BC Liberals are accusing the provincial NDP government of holding back vital information, such as the maps of the proposed electoral districts — which is true. Those maps will not be available for view until after the referendum and I do question why that is.
The NDP and pro pro-rep people are accusing the BC Liberals of a few political shenanigans around the referendum themselves.
The threshold on this referendum is very simple — 50 per cent plus one vote. There is no rule that a majority in a certain number of ridings must agree. No rule on participation levels. Just 50 per cent plus one. Which, I would argue is kind of like first past the post, which makes it ironic that the party wanting to change to pro-rep would use a first past the post system to get pro-rep. Although they do use a kind of pro-rep system to decide which pro-rep system you would like.
In any event, decide for yourself, don’t listen to any political party on the matter, is the advice.
Here’s what Richard Johnston, a University of B.C. professor of political science, told the Vancouver Sun. “People need to ask themselves a kind of basic question about a vision of democracy. You are not going to get an honest depiction of the world of (proportional representation) from advocates, but neither are you going to get it from the opponents.”
I urge you to vote. You’d better hurry. You have just enough time to finish that mailing process by the end of November.