BALLOTS HAVE ARRIVED in the mailboxes of many Kamloopsians. Do you know which way you’re voting?
Before New Zealand adopted Pro Rep in the 1990s, there was a popular cartoon that said “Want a good reason for supporting Pro Rep? Look at the people who are telling you not to.”
The same logic could apply here. There’s so much hype flying around that voters might conceivably have a hard time deciding which system to choose. Claims made by either side are often entirely contradictory. Who do you trust?
The fact is that the interests of citizens and political insiders are not aligned on this issue. Giving voters more power and more choice through Pro Rep isn't good for those who currently benefit from the distortions of First Past the Post. Opponents have launched ads featuring goose-stepping soldiers, suggesting Nazis are going to pop out from every hedge if we change our voting system. Fearmongering about the alternatives on the ballot is the approach they’ve chosen to take. Tellingly, the picture of “volunteers” on the No to PR website is a purchased stock photo. Seriously.
On the Yes to Pro Rep side we have ordinary citizens with nothing to gain but a vote that counts. We are your neighbours and colleagues – real people who have read the research and are willing to put endless hours into education and advocating for a more cooperative legislature, and a more inclusive electoral system where far more voters get an MLA who shares their values. Countries using Pro Rep tend to get higher economic growth, better social indicators, and improved environmental performance. To suggest that the sky will fall if BC gives it a whirl we adopt is ludicrous.
Far from being an experiment, over 80 countries use proportional voting systems, including 9 of the top 10 economic performers in the developed world. The United States, Canada and the UK are the only major western democracies still using First Past the Post. We're being given a chance to try Pro Rep for two terms, and then have another referendum on how it's working.
Democracies evolve — 100 years ago I'd be fighting for women's right to cast a ballot! We have lots to gain in this referendum, and very little to lose. I hope that you will join me in supporting Pro rep. This is important -- please mail in your ballot in support of proportional representation!
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