We the People vs the FPTP System
by Jeff & Diana Jewell
We will win the Referendum on Proportional Representation by focusing on the paramount Question #1: do you want a new proportional representative (ProRep) electoral process.
Winning the vote for ProRep, BC will be the first province to free itself from Canada’s colonial era First Past The Post (FPTP) winner-takes-all voting system. British Columbia will become the real standard for democracy and inspire the rest of Canada. When you really think about it, who wants to keep a disproportional electoral system.
The stakes for liberty could not be higher. Either the people finally win an honest voting system, or the prevailing disproportionate FPTP System continues to control our lives, run by the major parties political powerbrokers, on behalf of their patrons and corporate lobbyists.
Most people think BC’s upcoming mail-in ballet referendum is about voting systems. But it’s really about political power and control. It’s about more fairly sharing power. It’s people-centred democracy vs the preservation of the old divide-and-dominate colonial ‘System’. The two old electable parties, and their patrons are the power-brokers behind the NO campaign. They love their crony voting system (FPTP) which provides unfair advantage and power. It’s way easier for corporations and their lobbyists to do backroom political deals with a quasi-dictatorship under FPTP fake majority, than with an open, transparent ProRep government.
Question #1 will determine the future of democracy in Canada that’s how important voting Yes for ProRep is and what BC’s Referendum on ProRep is really all about.
The government received over 40 submissions from ProRep advocacy organizations making very clear and specific recommendations:
A) The referendum should have one simple question—not requiring massive knowledge of ProRep details, to avoid distracting voters or suppressing participation. [Fair Vote Canada BC: FVC-BC-Submission-2018-01-23.pdf]
“We recommend what some have called a “mandate question” that is precise enough to ensure that voters know what they are voting for but avoids drawing voters into the arcane technicalities of PR voting systems.” [Fair Voting BC: Fair-Voting-BC.pdf]
“Ballot Question: The ballot should include a specific question requesting a public mandate to adopt proportional voting that is linked to a transparent public process to choose a specific proportional system.”
B) Only ‘open party list’ forms of ProRep are acceptable .[Fair Voting BC: Fair-Voting-BC.pdf]
“Closed party lists…British Columbians have expressed no interest in voting systems in which political parties have the power to place candidates in favoured positions on a list such that those closest to the top are highly likely to be elected regardless of whether or not voters specifically select them.
… We strongly recommend that the government explicitly exclude these features”.
Why the government ignored both of these recommendations is unknown. Still we the electorate need to take power and just vote for Question #1. Voting Yes for ProRep will be absolutely clear and your ballot will be 100% valid.
So who’s behind the NO campaign, and what interests do they represent? The official NO campaign is led by a former NDP strategist/ lobbyist, a former BC Liberal cabinet member, and a former senior bureaucrat. While this may appear as an odd coalition of partisan political interests, they’re all loyal servants of the ‘System’. Their mission is to keep power with FPTP – even defending it against peoples’ democratic interests. The No side will run a FUD campaign to maximize public Fears, Uncertainties and Doubts about ProRep.
Having a second Question on the ballot is a gift to the FUD campaign. Did the “party back-channel powers” invent a referendum format that appears to be neutral BUT is secretly designed to loose? Remember this referendum is about power and those who presently control the power don’t plan to share it more equitably, more proportionately with us the electorate. Forewarned is forearmed. By voting Yes we will overcome No’s fear tactics and bring in a fair voting system.
Here’s why ‘We the People’ should vote for ProRep to replace FPTP:
- Most Canadians recognize that our FPTP voting system produces distorted results that are unfair to many if not most voters, candidates and political parties.
- FPTP usually gives the winner not always the party with the most votes a ‘false majority’ government, with a disproportionate 100% of the power based on a majority of seats (i.e. with FPTP Trump wons with a minority of the vote). In BC typically only 40% vote-share from the 60% of citizens who still have faith in the old FPTP system make the effort to vote. So FPTP routinely gives us quasi-dictatorships only supported by about 25% of the vote. We can do better.
- Because votes for losing candidates are ‘wasted’ (having no impact on the balance of power in the legislature), many voters are coerced into ‘strategic voting’ (for the ‘lesser of evils’). This results in the ‘two-party’ system, where any number of parties can run but only two have any chance of forming government.
- Hence, under FPTP voters aren’t really free to vote their conscience. Any ‘third party’ is accused of playing spoiler role that interferes with the main contest between the two dominant parties. Remember First Past the Post history based on elite’s horse racing where the first horse past the post got it all. FPTP condemns elections to be a two-way horse race where one horse (political party) leaves all others in the dust. We the people want a fair sharing of power. Not like Ontario’s recent election where Doug Ford got 40% of the vote and took 100% of the power with a fake majority. In BC’s last 17 majority government 16 were fake majorities, only one was real. We deserve better!
In summary, FPTP lacks electoral justice, due to its many flaws: ‘false majority’ dictatorships; ‘wrong winner’ elections; ‘blowout’ elections; ‘wasted votes’ (about half of all votes) and ‘strategic voting’ (about one-third); ‘safe seats’ (about two-thirds); gerrymandering etc. All such systemic defects of FPTP are alleviated by ProRep.
In conclusion, we advise voters to not sweat trying to understand the government’s three choices on Queston 2 – none are fully specified anyway.
Just vote YES for ProRep on Question #1,leave Question #2 blank, and mail-in your ballot.
If a majority votes for ProRep and none of the government’s alternatives receives a majority, the government will need to initiate a transparent and non-partisan process to select the best ProRep alternative for BC – as was recommended by the majority of proportional representative advocates in the first place!
Share this referendum analysis and voting strategy with your friends.
‘We the People’ will win this referendum for ProRep by putting the first question first and skip the unnecessary second question all together. It’s just clutter. Be clear. We want proportional representation where every vote counts and more people participate in democracy.
Question #2 is optional, deliberately confusing, and should simply be ignored by the 99.99% of us who aren’t voting system wonks.
Question #2 appears to be a sincere invitation for public participation in the democratic process. Yet the opposite is true, as it draws an apolitical electorate into the political swamp of voting system technicalities and unknown consequences.
Jeff and Diana Jewell are long-time activists, with a special commitment to Electoral Reform. Please send any questions or comments to: info@ElectoralJusticeNow.ca