Thursday, May 7, 2009

BC-STV will significantly improve local representation for voters

May 7, 2009

BC-STV will significantly improve local representation for voters
Citizens' Assembly members dismayed by misrepresentation of BC-STV

Buick, B.C. - Wilf Chelle, former Citizens' Assembly member from Peace River North, scoffs at
the suggestion that first past the post provides better local representation than BC-STV.

"Under first past the post, local elections are rarely competitive. An MLA owes their job to the
party nominating committee and not the voter. Only 40 per cent of voters have an MLA of their
choice and iron-clad party discipline prevents MLAs from speaking up for their communities,"
says Chelle. "Its failures are obvious when compared to BC-STV, which has no loss in quantity of
representation and a big increase in quality."

In 2004, British Columbians from every corner of the province told the Citizens' Assembly that
local representation was not working. Their strong concerns, and the high value that British
Columbians place on local representation, guided the Assembly in choosing BC-STV - a system
that will give our communities a much stronger voice in Victoria.

"Citizens' Assembly members from the Lower Mainland and Victoria were very clear that they
looked to us on guidance to improve representation for smaller communities. If the solution had
been to retain first past the post in some parts of the province, we would have done so, but it
wasn't," says Gladys Brown, former Citizens' Assembly member from Midway. "We are all better
served by BC-STV."

BC-STV will allow MLAs to champion their community's needs, instead of being bound by party
discipline. Local elections become far more competitive since the voter has the final say over
which candidates best represent a party. This provides powerful incentive for MLAs to serve their
constituents. Far more voters will have an MLA of their choice, and when more votes count, the
rural parts of the district are not overpowered by the largest centre.

"BC-STV is the only way that communities up north will be heard," says Wolf Scholz, former
Citizens' Assembly member from Kitimat. "That's why I voted for it."

"Accountability comes from the fact that a majority of voters have an MLA of their choice
and because we can choose between candidates from the same party," says Chelle. "How come it's
only politicians who oppose this? Perhaps it is because with BC-STV our votes will actually

"The suggestion that our current system provides effective local representation would be
laughable if the stakes weren't so high," says Chelle. "We urge British Columbians not to be taken
in by the misrepresentations of people trying to preserve the status quo."


The Citizens' Assembly Alumni is a group of former Citizens' Assembly members who are
committed to getting British Columbians the information they need about BC-STV. The Citizens'
Assembly on Electoral Reform was made up of 160 voters, a man and women from every
constituency in BC, randomly drawn from the voters list. They spent 11 months studying electoral
systems and listening to British Columbians before voting 95 per cent to recommend BC-STV to
the people of BC.

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