Later this month, British Columbians will be receiving their voting package in the mail for the electoral reform referendum. Not everyone has the time or the desire to delve into this seemingly complicated issue and research the options. And with plenty of rhetoric on both sides of the campaign, getting accurate information can be a real challenge.
As an outside observer who has spent years researching electoral systems, I’d like to put the spotlight on a system that might be of interest to residents of rural and northern BC.
Of the three systems on offer, Dual Member Proportional (DMP) is the only one that will keep the largest rural ridings the same size as they are now and not make them larger. It’s also the only system that will fully include these rural voters in the province-wide proportional makeup of the Legislature.
Furthermore, DMP does the most to preserve the familiar voting experience of First-Past-The-Post. There are no party lists, and you only mark one X, just like under the current system.
While the other two systems (Mixed Member and Rural Urban) will produce regional MLAs, DMP ensures that all MLAs will represent a riding and will be fully accountable to local voters, just like they are now.
As the name of the system suggests, DMP gives each riding two MLAs. Accordingly, a majority of ridings will often end up electing both an MLA from the governing benches and an MLA from the opposition. This means that many more BC residents will have their views represented in the Legislature, since more constituents will have direct access to an MLA that closely matches their values.
Like many things, we can’t just take solutions from other countries, transplant them into Canada, and hope that they’ll achieve the same results. DMP is an electoral system created in Canada, specifically for the unique context of Canada and its provinces.
Familiar ballot, all local MLAs, and accommodation of the large rural ridings: DMP preserves the best features of our current system while ensuring proportionality and fixing the problems of First-Past-The-Post.
This fall, all BC voters have a chance to be heard. So even if you don’t support change, remember to still rank the systems on the ballot.
–Dave Fraser, former B.C. resident