Watch your mailbox – if you are on the BC voter’s list, Elections BC will automatically send three mailings to your home. The first will be a postcard alerting you to the referendum, the second a comprehensive voter package describing the process, questions and systems proposed in this referendum, and the last will be the actual ballot.
The referendum vote will be conducted by mail between October 22nd and November 30th. There are two questions on the ballot.
Elections BC recently updated its website and now has a thorough description of the three systems of Proportional Representation on the ballot. Remember – if you are not sure which system best reflects your values, you can answer only the first question e.g. stay with First Past the Post or change to Proportional Representation. You may leave the second question blank. Your vote still counts! https://elections.bc.ca/referendum/
To make sure you are on the BC voter’s list call 1.800.661.8683 or go to https://eregister.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/ovr/welcome.aspx#
To learn more and for an opportunity to have your questions answered, plan to attend a meeting on Proportional Representation on Sunday September 16th at the Quadra Community Centre. Speaker: Barb Berger from the Comox Valley Fair Vote Canada chapter.
Social Policy and Income Inequality
One of the disturbing trends in Canada is the widening gulf between people who are wealthy or even those who are comfortably middle class, and those who struggle to make ends meet. Here in BC, economic inequality is exacerbated by the high cost of purchasing a home as well as high rental housing prices in much of the province.
This is also a generational problem – it seems more difficult for young people to get stable, well-paid employment than it was for baby boomers like myself. Wouldn’t it be good if our political system listened to everyone’s voices including the voices of those who are not so well off? In fact countries using Proportional Representation systems have higher scores on health, education and standards of living.
With Proportional Representation, most votes count towards electing a representative who reflects the voter’s values. Representatives and the party they are affiliated with understand that their job in the legislature is to represent ordinary citizens, not party interests, which are often aligned with corporate interests. Research shows that measures of income inequality and social policy outcomes improve in proportional systems. A variety of studies show that:
• When proportionality increases, inequality decreases
• The political preferences of low income citizens are better represented in a more proportional system
• Carey and Hix (2009 and 2011) looked at 610 elections over 60 years in 81 countries and found that Proportional Representation countries garnered higher scores on the United Nations Index of Human Development, which incorporates health, education and standard of living indicators.
•Arend Lijphart, an esteemed Dutch political scientist, wrote a book titled ‘Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in 36 Countries.’ The 2012 edition of this book covers patterns in these countries over a period of 55 years.
Lijphart concludes that countries using Proportional Representation systems have lower levels of income inequality and spend more on social expenditures than countries using the First Past the Post voting system. For Fair Vote Canada’s summary of Lijphart’s book see the third source below.
Watch your mailbox and plan to attend the meeting on September 16th!