LETTER: Electoral reform is waiting for electorate

LETTER: Electoral reform is waiting for electorate

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It is not so much a better method of accounting votes and assignment of seats system that people want in electoral reform.

What people really want to see is a fundamental change in the mentality and the culture of the current system toward something that replaces domination by cynical partisan warfare and grating rhetorical assaults, a useless, cartoonish legislature, double talk answers to simple questions and politically stilted decisions. It needs to be, and it can be, replaced with something that is based more on reason, study of issues, and the application of methodical intellect to accomplish everyday governance. Parties compete, yes, but to a healthy and smart degree, not destructively so.

If there is merit in the present system it is very hard to see. The legislature has been made to be a useless thing and laws are written and announced in advance and are never altered in the legislative process. We have to watch this painful, empty process as if it had some real meaning, but the harsh reality is that the legislature could be gone tomorrow and nothing would change.

The iron fist militancy of party discipline robs the public of democratic representation because the party leadership demands that the elected members’ role is to solely support party platforms and policies no matter what the representative may personally think or feel on an issue. Thus, you as a constituent are robbed of true democratic representation under this system.

We are further robbed of representation by first past the post when it is shown that in the last three elections governments were elected with a 43.4 per cent average of the total vote, which means that 56.6 per cent of the electorate are unrepresented. This majority gets only fringe seat onlooker rights and have no weight in government decisions.

These extremes need to be adjusted through a new system that lowers the power of the party leadership few and raises the power of elected members of the legislature. Free voices are absolutely essential to good decisions and progress, for innovative solutions to long-standing neglected problems, and we are bereft of this.

I am sure that people are not so naive as to think that politics can be all sweetness and light, but certainly a method to provide a better balance to our status quo is vital to better governance.

Also be aware that there are certain vested interest groups that are trying a full court press to defeat any change. They use scare tactics and try to create uncertainty and are betting that we have no courage. They are not saying who they are when they buy expensive media and use cover names, but you can probably guess who they are.

So British Columbians, if you believe cooperation is always better than conflict, you will have a chance to make comprehensive, remedial change in the upcoming referendum on electoral reform. You are indeed obligated as citizens to do your part. This is not a tiny, optional exercise but one vital to your own interests given the enormous bearing of government in your daily life. I am afraid this is your last chance and you should treat it accordingly.

Roy Roope, Summerland

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