Is proportional representation right for British Columbia? Let’s try to look at this in the current context.
If the current coalition was put together based on the fact that the two parties to the agreement are closely aligned in platform and base support, and that this is a dress rehearsal of what governing under proportional representation would look like, we have an opportunity to glimpse the future.
After the last election the Liberals held 43 seats, the NDP held 41, and the Green Party held 3. The Liberals received 40 per cent of the popular vote, the NDP had 39.9 per cent, and the Green Party had 16.7 per cent.
The NDP and Green Party signed a “Confidence and Supply” agreement, allowing the NDP to convince the Lieutenant Governor that they had the confidence of the House. They were asked to form a government.
A throne speech and budget soon followed, both of which—because of the Confidence and Supply agreement—were supported by the Green Party. Subsequent to the budget passing, the NDP government made decisions on the Site C power project and an LNG project that have infuriated the Green Party.
So we have a government that did not win the most seats in the House, did not receive the most votes in the last election, and does not have the support of its partner in the House, yet continues to enter into agreements on behalf of the Province.
Because there will not be another confidence motion—barring unforeseen circumstances—in the House until the spring of 2019, the only recourse the Green Party has is to vote with the Opposition on legislation, thus rendering the Government useless. This, logically, would be followed by a new negotiation prior to the next confidence vote, causing either the cycle to continue or a vote of non-confidence in spring 2019, thus causing another election.
There are, of course, some forms of proportional representation that could result in a more stable form of government, and proponents of moving to this form of governing would advocate for those.
We are being asked to vote this fall in a referendum that will determine our future. While we do not know the exact question we will be asked, it is assumed that it will not outline what form of proportional representation we are voting in favour of. If it does, most of the electorate will not have been given time to research what we are being asked to vote on.
We are, in essence, being asked to vote for proportional representation. If there is 50 per cent plus one support, the government will implement some form of PR prior to the next election, and implies we should trust them that they will pick the right form.
It would seem that the grand experiment of proportional representation in action with the NDP and Green Party has failed. It would also seem that we are being asked to buy the colloquial “pig in a poke” during the upcoming referendum.
It is clear that no one in this province should support proportional representation based on what we know now.