Letter: Just say a big yes to ‘proportional’ reform on upcoming ballot

Letter: Just say a big yes to ‘proportional’ reform on upcoming ballot

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Anyone watching the senate hearing into the lifetime appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court will have had a front-row seat to political partisanship at its worst.

Despite the gut-wrenching testimony of Dr. Blasey Ford accusing the judge of sexual assault, and despite the American Bar Association calling for an FBI investigation into the judge’s alleged actions, all but one of the Republican members of the senate committee gladly voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to a full senate vote.

In case you think otherwise, you should know the single reluctant senator did not vote against advancement. Instead, he lent his voice to the calls for investigation and voted with his party anyway.

Time and time again, north and south of the border, we see good people park their brains and let partisanship take over.

For instance, certain members of the B.C. NDP needed just five minutes to process the shock of John Horgan’s decision to approve the Site C dam. Once recovered, they got back to their mindless cheerleading.

Only four months ago, members of the Conservative opposition trounced the federal government for cutting off debate of the elections bill, even though they cut off debate of their own elections bill when they held government in 2014.

Liberal members of government who howled when the Conservatives trampled democracy back then supported their own government’s mighty trampling four years later.

Meanwhile, Green Party partisans congratulate themselves and their leader instead of asking Elizabeth May what happened to the calls she used to make for a moratorium on expansion of the tar sands.

The first-past-the-post electoral system encourages group-think and partisan behaviour by awarding all political power to the winner of any election. Parliamentary discussion of issues and bills is most often a banal charade because the system doesn’t require anything better.

Spirited debate and cross-aisle cooperation is replaced with a single-party steamroller that most often represents less than 40 per cent of the electorate. The views of 60 per cent of voters are routinely ignored.

Opponents of proportional representation are out in full force this fall, hoping to prevail in the B.C. referendum on electoral reform. When your ballot arrives by mail, please don’t look the other way. And please don’t be persuaded that proportional representation is somehow unfair or too complicated or unjustifiably slow.

Instead, recognize that proportional systems are fair and super sophisticated. Because they are, they’re used in more than 80 countries throughout the world. These systems encourage a range of viewpoints and also encourage the racial and gender diversity of candidates. All votes count in proportional systems, and if a party intends to play a constructive role in government, they’ll have to cooperate with other parties.

Your ballot will give you three proportional systems to choose from. If you can’t make up your mind, just say “yes” to proportional and leave it at that. Return your ballot between October 22 and November 30.

Then pat yourself on the back for having said “no” to divisive and destructive political partisanship and “yes” to a brighter future for all of us.

Dianne Varga, Kelowna

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