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I was sitting for my dinner with my brother, my partner and my daughter. It was a lovely rare visit from Arjun. My brother among other things is a city councillor in Kamloops and past-President of Fairvote Canada, and so it was opportune for my daughter, who is in grade 12, to ask us to clarify how our voting system works now.
“I have a great quick lecture for that”, I said in my professorial best. “So do I” said my brother. Great diplomat that he has always been, Arjun said “you first”.
“There are 87 districts in the province called ridings ”, I said as she nodded along. “Imagine – to make it easy - that each district has 10 votes. In the first district the Blue party gets 6 and the Red party gets 4. In the next district Blue gets 5.2 and Red gets 4.8. Truthfully, most districts have more than two political parties and independents –so the 10 votes gets split further. Now let’s say that Blue wins some districts but Red wins the most overall. The other parties only win the most votes in two or three districts. So Red wins even though they only get 3 votes in some districts or 4 votes in others. The government is then formed with the Red party in leadership but the rest of the parties have little say in government.
“ I like the pizza analogy myself” Arjun says. “What’s that?”, asks my daughter. “Well”, he said, “lets say that a group is going to order pizza. 5 like pepperoni, 2 like Hawaiian, 2 like mushroom and one likes plain cheese.” “Well, what kind of pizza do they get?”, she says earnestly in a voice that harkens back to childhood. “They all get pepperoni”. Sadness comes over her face. “And what if we had the other system?”. “Yes”, he said “so if you had proportional representation we would just get a mixed pizza. A little of what everyone wants”. Yum.
So with your mail-in ballot you can pick just proportional representation and vote on the first question on your ballot and leave the second question blank. Or, the government has given us a choice to choose between proportional systems if that is what we would like to do. Essentially, this is the discussion of how the pizza will be divided. If you just wants a proportional pizza and don’t really care how its done – Elections BC and balanced legislative committees will do that for you. I am confident that they will ensure that all of our values, urban/rural, representation for everyone and a more balanced legislature -- a more truly representative legislature -- is brought forward. Hooray! Vote!!