Fair Vote Kamloops will be running bi-weekly information sessions at TRU starting March 8. Fair Vote is an organization that is pushing for a referendum towards a proportional representational system. The organization advocates that the votes accumulated towards a seat on the senate should only represent the number of people voted for them. Their main example is 2015 federal election, where they believe that 39 per cent of the votes should have only represented 39 per cent of the seats in the senate in Canada.
Gisela Ruckert, spokesperson for Fair Vote Kamloops, believes that proportional representation more fairly represents demographics in B.C. than the current first-past-the-post system
“I was advocating for environmental policies and was starting to take polls in how the public was voting and I saw that the public was voting for changes to support the environment,” she said. “However, in the first-past-the-post system, they weren’t being represented.”
More specifically, Ruckert thinks that the proportional representation system could do a lot of good for students, a group that is often underrepresented in government.
“TRU students are a perfect example of a group that is affected by the government, that isn’t represented by the government,” Ruckert said. “So students that feel the school is underfunded would want things such as lower tuition fees, they will most likely be ignored by their current MLA, someone who will only show loyalty towards the voters that put them there.”
However, Fair Vote isn’t the only group in Kamloops who has a vested interest in the electoral system debate, says Ruckert. The no side, which is a loose group of lobbyists and politicians, is currently working to make sure the first-past-the-post system stays.
“One of our biggest opponents is the no side, who claim that proportional representation would lead to the public electing extremists who would do more harm than good, as well that reforming the electoral system in Canada would prove too complicated,” Ruckert said. “The no side is headed by lobbyists and career politicians and they obviously have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.”
However, according J. Peter Venton, an economist from the University of Western Ontario, the largest problem with the current electoral system is non-voters. A problem that would no doubt still exist under proportional representation.
“At the federal level, 40 per cent of the electorate have neglected their duty and responsibility to their fellow Canadians to vote in elections,” Venton said. “The percentage of non-voters in elections to provincial legislatures and local councils is much higher; this is more serious because provincial and local governments account for 60 per cent of government sector expenditure benefits – substantially more than the federal government’s 40 per cent share.”
Despite resistance to proportional representation, Fair Vote is determined to make sure MPs are accountable to all voters, and calls on all federal parties to do so.
“To determine the best model of Proportional Representation for Canada, while respecting the need for all MPs to face the voters and be accountable to voters, we call on federal parties to commit to conducting a multi-partisan process involving citizen and expert consultation to determine the best model and implementing the model in time to Make Every Vote Count in the 2019 election”, Fair Vote’s mission statement reads.
For any questions on Fair Vote Kamloops and proportional representation, the organization is running a bi-weekly information sessions in the TRUSU Boardroom (north end of Campus Activity Centre) starting March 8 at 7 p.m. You can also visit their website at http://www.fairvote.ca/.