With the rules and ballot question finally announced by British Columbia’s Attorney General, Unifor’s B.C. activists are ready to go “all in” on the fall 2018 referendum for a fairer voting system.
“This is our chance to change ‘politics as usual’ in B.C.—and we have to act fast,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director. “Outreach and dialogue from members to members is going to be key.”
Proportional representation (PR) is a model of voting that simply does a better job of ensuring that the ballots cast by voters are reflected in the make-up of the legislature.PR is where the “proportion” of legislators from each political party “represents” the will of the voters who cast ballots.
This is contrasted with the model of voting currently used and called First Past the Post. In the current model candidates with the most votes in a single constituency are elected and the votes for all of the other candidates elect no one. This is the electoral system used in both provincial and federal elections.
First Past the Post systems are not considered proportional representation because all-powerful “majority governments” are regularly elected with less than 50 per cent of the popular vote, and political parties with less than 20 per cent of the popular vote are regularly shut out of representation in legislatures.
Last week’s announcement in B.C. outlined that the referendum will be a mail-in ballot to residents in the province due before November 30, 2018. The ballot will contain a straightforward two-part question, first asking voters if they wish to maintain the First Past the Post voting system or move to a proportional representation system.
The second part of the referendum ballot asks respondents to indicate what is the preferred PR system of choice by ranking three system options: Dual Member Proportional, Mixed Member Proportional, and Rural-Urban PR.
A province-wide vote of 50 per cent plus one in favour of PR in B.C. will lead to a new voting system in time for the 2021 provincial general election.
Unifor is part of a broad coalition called Vote PR B.C. that unites trade unions, political parties, and dozens of organizations from civil society who share the goal of a legislature that better reflects the will of voters.
The campaign will run from July 1 to November 30.