Former Liberal MLAs Doug Bing, second from left, and Marc Dalton, second from right, campaigned against proportional representation Saturday. (Contributed)

Proportional representation proposal a partisan problem

Liberals pound the pavement in Maple Ridge

The NDP and the Liberals are battling it out in the streets again, this time over the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform.

Two former Liberal MLAs joined in on the party’s “Super Saturday,” which took place on the weekend in opposition to changing B.C.’s electoral system and knocked on about 150 doors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

“Most people, actually don’t know there’s a referendum going on,” said Doug Bing, former MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows.

Former Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton was also there.

“Those who did, they were very glad to talk to us because they were so confused by the question and they didn’t understand what was being asked in the second question.”

Bing said people can understand the first question, which asked people if they support the current first-past-the-post system, where the candidate with the largest number of votes wins a riding, or if they wanted a proportional representation system.

But the second question, asking people to choose between three versions of proportional representati0n, confused many.

He estimated that fewer than half the people who answered their door knew there was a mail-in referendum going on.

“A lot of people are throwing it away in their junk mail.”

Bing said it is an unfair and confusing process designed to favour the NDP and that the 50-per-cent-plus-one threshold for victory and the rushed process are skewing it in favour of that party.

“You have to really ask, ‘Is this going to improve our democratic system?” Bing said.

Bing said that when the referenda on the single transferable vote took place in 2009 and 2005, he voted in favour because he knew what was being proposed and it made sense. The STV came from a citizen’s assembly which devised the system on a non-partisan basis.

This time around, Bing said he’s voting no.

Bing added that he could explain only one of the three systems being proposed in the mail-in referendum. He understands the mixed-member proportional system, in which people vote in an MLA who has the overall largest number of votes, in a riding.

In addition to that, under MMP, there would be other MLAs in the riding, who would be appointed, based on the overall percentage of votes each party receives.

The ridings would be larger and likely see the two Maple Ridge ones combined, with one MLA elected and another appointed, he said.

“Why do we want to have this appointment system? It’s going to change all sorts of things,” Bing added.

“[John] Horgan said he would have a simple yes or no question.”

Those opposed to proportional representation are also raising the spectre of extremist parties winning seats in the legislature.

Bing agreed, the ads that raised fears of neo Nazis taking power are exaggerated, but noted there are now 92 members of the right-wing Alternative fur Deutschland party in the German parliament, elected through proportional representation.

Bing maintained a non-partisan group should make a proposal for electoral reform and said he had no idea how the public feels, although the advantage usually falls to the government.

The mail-in referendum takes place between Oct. 22 and Nov. 30.

However, NDP Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith, said there’s been a “huge uptake” on the issue on social media and defended the 50-per-cent-plus-one threshold that will allow a win in the referendum, saying that’s how democracy generally works. He plans on knocking on doors this week to explain the proposal.

“It’s not working that way right now when you have 40 per cent of the vote leading to 100 per cent of the power. That’s certainly not democratic in the sense of the present system we have and that’s the whole point of this,” D’Eith said.

D’Eith described the No-side’s threat of neo-Nazis gaining power through proportional representation as fear mongering, adding that the requirement for a party to have five per cent of the total vote, in order to get a seat in the legislature, will make it difficult for fringe parties to gain seats.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge goaltender taking talents to Junior A squad in Saskatchewan

Eric Clark, 18, undefeated with North VanWolf Pack this season; graduated from SRT with straight As

BC SPCA asking Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to take the No Hot Pets pledge

The BC SPCA receives nearly 1,000 calls a year about hot animals in cars

Free film for Ridge residents to mark Plastic Free July

The Story of Plastic can be viewed for free on any device

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Thousands of dollars of stolen rice traced to Langley warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

UPDATE: Mission spray park closed after children suffer swollen eyes, burns

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner brings ‘objectivity’ to the job

Vancouver lawyer Reece Harding is Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner, also a first for B.C.

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

19 times on 19th birthday: Langley teen goes from crutches to conquering Abby Grind

Kaden Van Buren started at midnight on Saturday. By 3 p.m. he had completed the trek 19 times.

Most Read