In the wake of B.C.’s provincial election, it seems the Liberals will just barely hold a minority government.
And with that minority government could come sweeping changes to the province’s voting system, according to Fair Vote Canada.
Fair Vote Canada is a nation-wide group that advocates for proportional representation, a system of voting that results in a direct correlation between the percentage of votes cast for a party and the percentage of power that party holds.
Terry Dance-Bennink, co-chair of the group’s Victoria chapter, spoke to Jon McComb on Friday about why proportional representation needs to be implemented, and soon.
Dance-Bennink says the results of the provincial election are effective proof of why reform is needed.
She says the fact that a majority of voters supported parties that, in turn, support proportional representation sends a message.
“B.C. has always been a leader when it comes to pushing for proportional representation, and we think this election bears that out.”
Even dating back to before this election, Dance-Bennink says there was strong support for the change.
In a 2005 referendum, 58 per cent of British Columbians supported voter reform, falling just short of the BC Liberals’ required 60 per cent in order to enact that reform.
More recently, she points to two exit polls done after the provincial election, which found more that almost 70 per cent of people in B.C. support proportional representation.
She says with support rising in the province, British Columbians would welcome another referendum.
“I think that people would be just overjoyed if we had a government with some guts and some boldness to move on this.”
And with a minority government that may not last, she says getting reform implemented in a timely manner is essential.
“The party that’s in power doesn’t want this because they’re going to have to share the power… and that’s why Fair Vote Canada wants this done quickly.”
She says the other two parties should get into action before they’re no longer able to.
“What we would hope is that the NDP and the Greens would sit down as soon as possible to negotiate, come up with a process and get it implemented, within the first year.”
She says more than anything, the federal government’s failure to advance with electoral reform left a bad taste in people’s mouths.
But according to Dance-Bennink, the research used in the attempt may prove fruitful for B.C.’s efforts.
“There can be a relatively quick review of all the data that already exists and a model selected that meets most people’s desires. And then we’d simply implement it.”
And with anti-Liberal sentiment at the highest it has been in a long time, she says now is the best time for reform.
“Rather than just have one party – the Liberals – make all decisions, as they’ve done for the last 16 years, we want to see a diversity of voices from all over the province having a fair and equal say.”
And she says it goes even farther than political preference.
“It’s a constitutional right. And it’s about time for a more democratic system where all viewpoints are represented.”