More on BC's proposed STV electoral reform

When it first came out, I thought it looked like a great idea. Later, after discussing it with some people I thought it wasn't such a great idea. Now, I'm leaning again to thinking it is a better system than what we currently have but I'm not sure that it's the best we could do.

I understand that some people in Ireland want to get rid of it but every time that comes to a ballot measure it gets put up against a re-run of FPTP (our current system) and people don't want to go back there.

For myself, I would have preferred a Mixed-Member proportional system -- leave the rural provincial ridings intact, use federal boundaries for the more urban areas and everyone votes twice: once for a local candidate and once for a list. I personally believe that the rural BCers who, at the constituent assembly asked that the proposed system be STV instead of MMP were, to some extent mistaken: their ostensible reason for choosing STV over MMP went something like this: "we want to know our candidate and not be voting for a slate". I think that with the STV system we're going to be voting on, their ridings will get so big that no group of people will know any one candidate enough that the "personal support" factor will be at all significant.

To me the biggest downside with STV is the way ridings will have to be consolidated to support it in the face of the rider on the constituent assembly's mandate: choose a new system with the same number of seats. This is probably less of an issue for really urban areas -- and maybe not much of an issue for the far-flung reaches, either. Some of the rural ridings are truly monstrous already.

But for me, in the Langley riding where I used to live, and the Fort Langley-Aldergrove riding where I now live, I can see local issues and local interests getting completely swamped in one direction or another, depending on how the consolidation takes place. Will these two ridings get lumped with three Surrey ridings? I can tell you that Langley's and Aldergrove's interests will not be well served in that case: those areas are far more urban and our voices will get lost in their shuffle. Or what if we're lumped in with Abbotsford and Chilliwack? That might be less disadvantageous but I wonder.

I think local issues everywhere but in the urban areas will be ill-served by this particular reform: MMP would have resulted in moderate riding consolidation that would have gotten no less granular than the federal ridings. But STV will result in there being about 15 or 20 ridings across the whole province. Think about it: your riding and up to four neighbouring ones will be consolidated. Is that what you want? Or your riding may be consolidated with others up to two or three ridings away from where you are. Is that what you want?

Still, I may be completely mistaken and STV is far better than what we have now: I'm going to vote "yes".

My only other concern is that it will be open to manipulation in ways that only the big political machines recognize yet. Gordon Gibson says that party politicians don't like STV: I suspect they're shamming but we'll only be able to find that out either way several elections AFTER we adopt STV.

No comments: