Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Monday, May 16, 2005

In B.C., the 'yes' vote is climbing

I'm on the executive for Fair Vote Edmonton, the local chapter of Fair Vote Canada (a multi-partisan citizens' campaign arguing for a voting system that incorporates at least some measure of proportional representation). At our annual general meeting last month, we discussed the fact that the current referendum in British Columbia on the STV form of proportional representation was almost certainly to fail, though not because people were necessarily against it, but because they didn't know enough about it to vote yes. Among those who did know about it, we were told, there were more in favour than not, but unless more British Columbians informed themselves before Election Day, the likelihood of reaching the 60% threshhold necessary for it to pass looked pretty slim. I figured this was unlikely to change in just a month, and therefore haven't really been paying regular attention to polls on the subject.

Apparently I gave up too soon. With the B.C. provincial election now twenty-four hours away, things may finally be moving out there in Lotus Land. According to journalist-cum-blogger Andrew Coyne (a fellow supporter of proportional representation):

In the last couple of weeks, interest has surged. And as people have informed themselves, support for electoral reform -- the particular model before the voters is called the single transferable vote, or STV -- has grown. The latest Ipsos-Reid poll puts the Yes ahead 55-45. That's still short of the 60% needed -- plus a majority of the vote in 60% of the province's ridings -- but it's getting closer.
I'm still not holding my breath that this is going to work out, but I'll have all my limbs crossed until the end of the day Tuesday. I still prefer mixed-member proportional to STV, but if B.C. makes this happen, the chances of citizens' assemblies on voting reform being established in other provinces (and maybe even federally) suddenly shoot way, way up.

Tangentially, I have to add that one of the exciting things about being involved in the push for proportional representation has been the non-partisan nature of the issue. There's something really kind of wonderful about sitting in a group of people whose views are diametrically opposed to yours in almost every way, but still agreeing to put aside your differences for the sake of this one conviction you have in common. Coyne, who's clearly been paying more attention to B.C. than I have, says this seems to be the case there as well:
Meanwhile, a grassroots Yes campaign has made the case for reform through the media. And I mean grassroots: both business and labour have largely stayed out, in terms of any largescale mobilization of money and manpower. Indeed, the whole debate has crossed party and interest-group lines. There are New Democrats who love STV, and union leaders who hate it; conservatives in favour and business leaders opposed; and every other combination.
Now if only we could teach Ottawa a thing or two about playing nicely with others!

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