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General · 23rd November 2018
Bonnie Brownstein
Please note: Elections BC will extend the deadline to submit your ballot on electoral reform because of the continued strike at Canada Post.
The agency said the new date to mail your packages back in will be 4:30pm on Friday December 7, rather than November 30.

And now, back to Bonnie's article:
There is now a section on the Elections BC website showing what percentage of ballots have been received by Elections BC province wide and also broken down by every riding. (Source 1) The most recent update is from November 9th with the next update scheduled for Tuesday November 13th. Return rates so far are abysmal at 3.7% province wide. Here in the North Island we rank near the top with a return rate of 8.7%.

So far it looks like this will be a very close election, with victory for the YES side by no means assured. If people do vote for change but there is a very low voter turnout there will be a lot of complaints about the legitimacy of this referendum. This would not be a good way to launch into a big change in our democracy.

Too many people no longer value their right to vote.
I am now making phone calls across BC to remind voters to vote. This experience reinforces to me how many people are completely disenchanted and disengaged. So many people tell me they don’t vote or “politics is bull#%&”.

But countries using Proportional Representation systems have higher voter turnout on average, and voters are more satisfied with the quality of their democracies. We desperately need higher voter turnout and something to shake people out of their cynicism. Democracy is not something to be taken for granted. More voter engagement is a pressing need which our current voting system cannot address.

Canada is not immune to the powerful forces in the world today working to undermine the democratic freedoms we appreciate. Neither is it immune to the forces enabling leaders such as Erdogan in Turkey to change their systems to negate the checks on their power. (Source 2) I quote from a recent article by David Suzuki in the Vancouver Sun (Source 3) He starts by highlighting the value of diversity both in ecosystems and in human societies and goes on to say:
“Today, in both this province and throughout Canada, majority governments are routinely elected with far less than 50 per cent of the vote, leaving the voices of the majority unrepresented and unheard…
"What are desperately needed in our world today… are new ideas, perspectives and strategies that celebrate and encourage diversity… Switching to proportional representation in our electoral system will help us achieve that goal.
"For me, voting is a sacred obligation. My parents were born in Vancouver… and they lived their entire lives in Canada. Yet they couldn’t vote until 1948 because they were of Japanese descent. Given the experience of my parents, I have always taken the right to vote as a great gift and have voted in every federal election since I turned 21.
"I am now 82. And yet, with the exception of 2015 when I voted strategically to keep former prime minister Stephen Harper out of office, I had never voted for a party that took power. Essentially, all those years, my votes — my priorities — were ignored… That’s why I believe British Columbia and Canada need to join most of the other democracies in the world, so we can elect governments that more closely reflect the priorities of more citizens. That is why I’m voting for proportional representation in the electoral reform referendum.”

Our current First Past the Post system enables leaders such as Doug Ford to get elected with 40% of the votes and proceed to make unwise changes not supported by the majority of the population.

The NO side keeps saying that Proportional Representation will allow extremists to get elected. In the last several federal elections all the fringe parties put together got no more than 1% of the popular vote. Unless there is a really big change in our society, it is unlikely that any extremists will get elected under Proportional Representation. For all the reasons outlined here and in past articles – please reach out to your family members, friends and neighbours and encourage them to vote YES. Their votes could be the deciding ones that lead to change.

Sources:
1) https://elections.bc.ca/referendum/about-the-referendum/referendum-resources/referendum-resources/#voting_packages_received
2) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/world/asia/turkey-erdogan.html
3) https://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/david-suzuki-proportional-representations-diversity-of-views-will-lead-to-better-policies?x=1541725574