MLA Adam Olsen on Proportional Representation

In the next few weeks, when I get my referendum ballot in the mail, I will be voting yes to change to a proportional representation (Pro-Rep) voting system.

For me, it is a basic issue of fairness. Political parties should get the same percentage of seats in the legislature as British Columbians who voted for them. That is not how our current system works, so I hope we vote to change it.

Right now, under first-past-the-post, political parties can get a majority of the seats in the legislature even if they get far less than a majority of the votes. That is called a false majority.

Recently, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives in Ontario earned the support of 40.5% of the voters. As a result, he got 60% of the seats and 100% of the power. Factor 58% voter turnout and actually, only about 1 in 4 voters in Ontario gave Mr. Ford his false majority.

For the next four years, there is no way to hold him accountable. Legislatively, he is unstoppable. And, he has been clear, he will even circumvent the judicial branch if he wish.

British Columbia also has a long history of false majorities. Voters have been gathering behind two large parties, and the political debate distilled into yes and no, good and bad, us and them. It is polarized, simplistic and we are not well served by it.

That is why I am supporting a change to a proportional representation system. Our government should serve the people, not simplistic political parties and ideologies.

Pro-Rep systems require your politicians work harder, smarter and more collaboratively. That is why politicians promise you they’ll change to Pro-Rep during an election, and then bail, when they get a false majority.

In the end, it is about power – Your power. When it is consolidated and given unchecked to a political party, it is intoxicating. From what I have seen since being elected to represent you in in the legislature, it is beneficial to spread power around. Giving political parties, 100% of the power, is not a good idea.

It’s not that we politicians are bad people – it’s just that 100% of our power, is, well, really powerful, and probably something that we all should share and protect.

I represent 50,000 different opinions in Saanich North and the Islands. So when the political environment is charged, divided and combative, it is very difficult to solve the challenges we face.

It is no exaggeration to say the issues we face threaten our existence. Solutions will require cooperation, collaboration, and creativity. A Pro-Rep government will help us achieve this.

Pro-Rep governments are more thoughtful and kind. Elections are more civil. They are more friendly because, at the end of the election, politicians have to work with each other. All votes, in all ridings all weigh the same because every vote counts the same.

You might laugh and say “that is not how politicians work!” And you are right! That is precisely why we need to change the expectations, change the narrative and change the outcomes.

This fall please vote for proportional representation and change the way we do politics.

October 14, 2018 8:14 PM

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