Tag Archives: referendum

PR Referendum Guide

BC is having a referendum on how we choose our elected MLAs. This is a big deal. If the referendum passes and we move to a proportional representation voting system, it will fundamentally reshape voter engagement and politics in this province. So vote wisely. Your ballot should arrive by mail in the next few days, if you haven’t already received it.

The Ballot

There are two questions on the ballot.

  1. Which system should British Columbia use for provincial elections?
    1. The current First Past the Post voting system
    2. A proportional representation voting system
  2. If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following systems do you prefer? (Rank in order of preference.)
    1. Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
    2. Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
    3. Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)

You need to fill out your ballot and mail it back to Elections BC so that it arrives before November 30.

If voters choose proportional representation, the next 2 elections will be conducted under the most popular system from question 2. After that, there will be a second referendum to asking if British Columbians like the new voting system or we should go back to the old voting system.

The Options

The options might be overwhelming at first, but in less than 10 minutes you can learn the basics.

Here’s a 3 minute summary of what is wrong with our current system, from National Post columnist Andrew Coyne.

And a fun, easy-to-understand 4 minute video summarizing the options you’ll be voting for. If you only have 4 minutes to figure out how to vote, watch this video.

How I’m voting

Question 1 is easy. I’m voting for proportional representation. Our voting system is broken and needs to change. Too many people vote strategically for a party that isn’t their favourite. More people don’t even bother voting because their vote doesn’t seem to matter. Proportional representation should fix these problems, but if it doesn’t we can always go back to First Past the Post after 2 elections. So there is little risk of trying.

Question 2 is harder. Any of the options will be better than the system that we have right now, but they each have their pros and cons. As the video above points out, Dual Member is the simplest, Mixed Member is the most common around the world, and Rural-Urban gives voters the most power with ranked ballots.  I used the survey at referendumguide.ca to explore the characteristics of each of the proportional systems and this is what it suggested.

BallotRD

  1. Rural-Urban
  2. Dual Member
  3. Mixed Member

Rural-Urban is clearly my preferred system. I like having a ranked ballot and power as a voter to pick candidates from a bunch of political parties. As an example of how this might play out for me in Vancouver, my ballot would probably rank a bunch of Green and NDP candidates with the best ones at the top. That level of choice might not appeal to everyone, so I’m glad there are other options like Dual Member and Mixed Member being proposed that offer simpler ballots.

More Details

If you want more details on the voting systems and how the mechanics work, this 24 minute summary goes into all the details:

If you’re curious what the results of the last election (2017) hypothetically would have been under the 3 proportional representation systems, checkout bcvoteoptions.ca.

If you have an hour to hear more about why we should keep our voting system or change it, you can listen to a debate between the Yes and No sides from the Politicoast podcast, featuring Suzanne Anton and Seth Klein.

If you want to read more, there are descriptions of the three PR voting systems proposed here:

If you want to have a celebrity explain it to you, here’s Dan Mangan.

Lastly, there seems to be a lot of fear mongering coming from the No PR side (especially with Facebook ads) so to counter it I suggest you checkout Fair Vote Canada’s mythbusters series (which tackles questions like will proportional representation remove local representation or lead to unstable governments) and this spoof ad below for a chuckle.

Bonus Videos

Transit Referendum – Vote YES

Chennai metro under construction
I might be half way around the world, but I’m still following the transit referendum in Vancouver. Being in India, I have a unique perspective of how important good public transit is. Many of the big Indian cities we’ve been to are choking with air pollution and traffic congestion.

Over the past few decades, Indian cities have seen spikes in population and car ownership without any new public transit projects. Now, they trying to play catch up and are investing heavily in rapid transit. It seems that every major city we’ve been to has a metro system under construction – Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Jaipur, Agra, and Varanasi. In fact the Indian government is funding metro construction in any city of more than 2 million people.

Sadly, our current Canadian government ignores urban issues and the BC is no fan of transit. Neither recognize the importance to the economy. The BC Liberals have no problem spending billions on highway expansions and new bridges but won’t finance new transit projects. The best they’ve agreed to is a referendum on a new 0.5% sales tax in Metro Vancouver with the money raised going to fund transit and other congestion reducing projects (including bike lanes and a new Pautullo Bridge). It’s ridiculous that public transit has to beg for money via a referendum, but it is the best chance Vancouver has to get new infrastructure in the next decade.

So, I’m encouraging all my friends in Vancouver to vote YES. I’m happy that the mail-in ballots aren’t due until the end of May so I’ll have time to vote when I get back.
image

Details on the referendum.

HST Referendum – My 12 Cents

I finally got my HST referendum in the mail. Now I just have to figure out how to vote. I’m not happy with either option.

On the right hand, we have the Liberals lying about introducing the HST, spending ridiculous sums of money to convince voters to keep it, making dubious claims that it will create jobs, and promising to reduce the HST to 10% if they’re reelected.

On the left hand, we have the NDP and Bill Vander Zalm whipping up anti-tax sentiment, claiming British Columbians are ‘struggling to make ends meet’ and can’t afford any more taxes, and ignoring the complication of going back to the GST/PST after the change has already been made.

I think both are stupid.

When the HST was first introduced, the Liberal government said it would be ‘revenue neutral’. Then they realized they would make more money off it, but said all the extra money would help fund health care – ok, I can support that. Then they said they would lower the tax rate to 10%. Wait a minute, I thought that money was needed to support health care?

The HST is obviously a simpler tax then the GST/PST, and I can support that. I don’t envy any retailers who will have to revert the changes to their computer systems if the referendum passes. The old PST rules had hundreds of exemptions. Yes, bikes and biking gear was one exemption, and I don’t like that bikes are now more expensive, but there are better ways for the government to support cycling then tax breaks.

I think I’d be willing to support the HST if it was left at 12%. Getting rid of the HST seems irresponsible at this point. Keeping it and lowering it to 10% will hamstring future government revenue. What to do?

Maybe the battling stickman videos will help me decide. The first one is part of the government’s $5 million ad campaign to sell the HST and has almost 50 views on Youtube (the video on Vimeo has closer to 1000). Money well spent.