Monday, September 10, 2007

Single Transferable Vote and Mt. Pleasant

Households in Mt. Pleasant recently received a lovely publication by the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission showing their draft proposals for new electoral riding boundaries. This included maps for two scenarios - one is a population-weighted adjustment to the current single-member proportional system, and the other is a proposal for how the boundaries would look if the BC Single Transferable Vote becomes the way of choosing members of the Provincial Legislative Assembly.

You may recall that the BCSTV was approved by 57.69% of BC voters in a referendum on May 17, 2005 - but 60% was the supermajority required to change to this system. But the Campbell government has apparently laid plans to submit the BCSTV to another vote in May of 2009 - the same time that the Liberal government has to submit its own government to elections. If the change gets approved, it would first be in effect for the 2013 election.

In the first of the Boundaries Commission's scenarios, Mt. Pleasant's boundaries would be very similar to what they are now - in the BCSTV version, Mt. Pleasant would be part of an overall East Van riding.

From a Mt. Pleasant perspective, I think the change to STV would probably be good. Notwithstanding the fact that every solution has its own problems, here's what I think there is to like:

*get to vote for more choices

*East Van seen as a unified constituency - we really do have a lot in common compared to West Van

*have more options for finding an MLA to bring your issue up to the legislature - hopefully one of your seven will take an interest - and if they all support you, you have a much stronger hand

*novelty and the fact of more choices will bring out more voters - they won't be confused as the mainstream pundits have predicted. They'll be more intrigued, as everybody likes to figure out their choices.

*no more "hold your nose and vote" to keep the party you don't want from getting in. If you vote for the Work Less Party and they don't get enough votes to make it, you can have your voting credits roll over to the NDP or the Greens (or the Liberals if you prefer) instead of being written off and leaving the leading party with a bigger lead. And if your candidate wins by more than enough votes, your "leftover" vote portion will contribute to the success of your second, third ... even your seventh choice.

*Will likely make the parties be more responsive to local issues - right now, Mt. Pleasant is a "safe" seat for NDP, but then you only have one member, who is already assured of your vote, so you haven't much leverage

I also like the fact that there was a Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform made up of one man and one woman from each riding in BC that sat for a year to determine the fairest electoral system for BC. The BC-STV (British Columbia Single Transferable Vote) was their answer. Headed by Jack Blaney, former President of Simon Fraser University, this assembly had a tremendous education on what kinds of electoral systems there are in the world and how they have actually been working. When the year was up, the members of that study commission were unanimous behind their choice and they worked like the dickens to get people to vote for it. It nearly attained the required supermajority of BC voters, and it will apparently be coming up for a vote again - either to succeed, or to fail more decisively (that's up to us).

There is still a lot of information about this Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform and their conclusions online at - even instructional audio and video.

The boundaries on the district maps we received were drawn up by three appointed men who sat as the Electoral Boundaries Commission. There is still time to give feedback on what they have drawn up. You can submit online or go to a hearing or both. The first Vancouver hearing was September 8, but there will be three more hearing dates: September 20, October 19, and November 13. To find times and locations, visit the Electoral Boundaries Commission webpage

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