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Official Proponent - NO to the Single Transferable Vote - May 2009 Referendum

NEWS RELEASE Tuesday May 6, 2009

Brian R. D. Smith, Q.C., BC's Attorney General from 1983-1988, writes: "Hardly anyone I meet understands STV or the way that their vote will end up transferred to their second or third choices." His full column is copied below.

May 6, 2009
Victoria BC

Single Transferrable Vote

As someone open to reform our system of balloting, I am surprised we are seriously considering STV.

Hardly anyone I meet understands STV or the way that their vote will end up transferred to their second or third choices.

Supporters of STV say, " never mind the STV sounds complicated", but it will result in a more representative and accountable legislature. It works well in places like Malta (which is more like Lilliput than British Columbia)!

We do know that STV will give greater voice to the minor parties and may produce more frequent minority governments. We are told that minority governments can be a good thing - they keep governments on their toes!

Minority governments certainly have their place - but surely not in difficult economic times which call for strong leadership and bold decision making in place of endless compromise.

Strong arguments to change our system are made from citing the B. C. Election of 1996 when the Liberals won the popular vote and the NDP won more seats.

Another example that offends is the 2000 US presidential election when George Bush won the presidency by a majority of the electoral college, while the Democrats won the popular vote.

These results are exceedingly rare in North American experience.

In 1996 the NDP won because they won a majority of constituencies , and it is constituency voters, not the overall provincial vote, that determines who is to govern the province.

Under STV the existing eighty-five constituencies would disappear and be replaced by twenty giant constituencies. You can see these proposed constituencies on the Elections B. C. website.

In other words, you will not have local community representatives any more, but regional representation instead.

Ballots will be large regional ballots with multi candidates to choose from. Since the entire region votes for your MLA, you will find in time that successful candidates will tend to come from the regional population centre. In the new proposed capital region riding - successful candidates will favour the core Victoria vote - and Sooke and Central Saanich will become further removed from their representative.

We will not have local community champions fighting for us in the legislature.

This will be a huge problem if you live in Alert Bay or the Charlottes or in Radium - your member will be distant in a regional centre and will not have the same incentive to fight for your community interests.

It is too bad that the Citizens' Assembly did not give us a reform proposal that was practical and workable, and included some proportional representation as well.

First past the post is not perfect, but until someone comes up with a new system that is fair and clear and that retains my community connection with my member of the legislature - I believe it is wiser to vote NO on STV.

Brian R. D. Smith, Q.C.

See for Mr. Smith's biography.



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