First Past the Post Results
The five ridings in this table represent the Cariboo-Thompson region as defined in the 2015 BC Electoral Boundaries Commission report.
By seat count, it’s 100% Liberal. But those five Liberals actually represent just over 50% of the voters in the region.
The remaining voters, just under 50%, got 0% of the seats.
That’s what’s wrong with our current voting system. Half the voters in the region got all the representation in the Legislature, and the other half got none.
PR is Good for Northern and Interior Voters
A claim that has achieved currency recently is that proportional representation (PR) will reduce the representation of northern and Interior voters. This is scaremongering designed to rally local support for those making the claim. There’s no reason to change the regional representation that exists today. Any proportional voting system can be designed to retain exactly the same regional representation that we have today. All of the models under consideration by Fair Vote Canada would retain the same levels of regional representation that currently exist.
Effect of Proportional Representation on Rural Urban Split
Proportional representation would greatly reduce the effect of the so-called “rural-urban split”, which is far less pronounced than some people like to think. The rural vs. urban seat counts are quite split but that’s because our voting system doesn’t fairly represent voters. Voters themselves are much less split. Cariboo Thompson voters are not that different from voters anywhere else in the province, including the Lower Mainland.
Goodbye to Strategic Voting
One of the biggest changes for voters under a proportional system is the elimination of strategic voting. If you choose to vote for party A instead of party B, party A will get the benefit. If you support party A, there’s no point in voting for party B in the hope that party C won’t win. If party C gets enough votes, they’ll get the number of seats they deserve. The division of votes between party A and party B will just result in the number of seats each of those parties wins, which will be independent of party C. In other words, there is no vote splitting because most votes count towards electing a representative.
Safe Seats are Gone
Under the current system, if your riding is a safe seat, then even if you support the leading party, there’s less incentive to vote. Supporters of each party can be reasonably confident with PR that their vote will count towards electing a candidate from their party so there’s always an incentive to vote. As a result, PR tends to increase voter turnout. Not voting means hurting your preferred party.
How PR Could Change the Outcome
With a proportional system, the existing vote from 2017 would have resulted in three Liberals, one NDP and one Green across the region. However, since changing the system will also affect voting patterns because of changes to strategic voting and safe seats, it’s impossible to say what the outcome would actually have been.
What we can say for sure though, is that the outcome under PR will be more representative of the wishes of voters in the region. And that is the whole point.