I have a new mantra: BC-STV, it's not for me. After writing several stories on the proposed voting system and reading everything I can lay my hands on in the past few months, I've decided to vote "no" to the proposed change.
BC-STV, for anyone who's been camped on Mars since December, is the system recommended by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform. The assembly consisted of 160 people drawn at random from every area of B.C., one man and one woman from each constituency in the province.
It first met in January 2004. From then until March, the group learned about electoral systems. Then from May to June, the assembly took its show on the road to hear from fellow citizens. Later in the year, September to November, the members deliberated on the information presented at the meetings and the voting alternatives in place around the world.
Finally, on Dec. 10, 2004, the assembly delivered its historical decision. And now the voters of B.C. have the final say on May 17 on whether or not to adopt BC-STV as our voting system, effective in 2009. Should the province vote "yes," another referendum would be held after the following three elections to determine whether to continue with the STV system.
Now many folks are asking, what's not to like? - saying that anything is better than the current first-past-the-post system, that voting for the person instead of the party will end the confrontational style of government we tend to have in B.C.
To some of these people I say, be careful what you wish for. Do we really want a government that will have no real power? Witness the unholy alliance between the federal NDP and Liberals. The NDP had the least amount of popular support in the last election, yet they managed to exert an enormous amount of clout because of the Liberal minority government. How does that comply with the wishes of the people?
Another part of the STV that alarms me is the concept of having between two and seven elected positions per constituency. Because the number of MLAs will not change from the current 79 areas such as ours with a small population base will be combined with another area to make up the needed electoral population. We could be lumped in with a part of Vancouver Island or become a part of West Vancouver. Neither proposal would be good for our area. Vancouver Island is too far away and West Vancouver is too urban. Some people are in favour of the system because it will promote the candidate over the party. I fail to see why that's a plus. Who wants an MLA who doesn't even have the support of his or her own party? And if it's charisma you're after, I have three words - William Vander Zalm. When he was first elected, he was the most loved man in B.C. By the time he quit, not even the most die-hard Socreds could pass him without holding their noses. Would things have been any different under the STV? Probably not. If anything, he probably would have had an even bigger mandate.
And who wants to wait two days to find out who won the election? Apparently the Irish. And look how well they get along. BC-STV - it's still not for me.