It is the third electoral reform vote in British Columbia in a generation. I suppose you have to give them credit, perhaps persistence is key.
The latest polls have suggested it is a coin toss. This is the closest BC has ever been to fundamentally change their democracy.
Look, I have never been a fan of proportional representation. I think it is convoluted, confusing to voters, and neglects the huge role geography plays in the lives of Canadians.
Coalition governments, consisting of parties all with their own agenda and promises: a bridge here, public art there, research grants for everyone, they all end up at the budget table. Proportional representation is a disaster for anyone who cares about limited government.
A study by the Frasier Institute showed that countries governed by PR systems engaged in more deficit spending than traditionally elected countries. The study showed that compared to a nation's GDP, proportionally elected governments spend almost 25 per cent more than their counterparts.
Now you’re looking at me saying, Keean, what does BC have to lose? They are almost $68 billion in debt, and with their state-run insurance company haemorrhaging cash, their financial future is grim.
So, let’s talk about the positives of proportional representation:
The current political establishment in BC is entirely behind a carbon tax. Every province west of Ottawa, including Ontario, has fallen out of line with Justin Trudeau. Everyone that is, besides BC. It wasn’t even a "left-wing" government that implemented it. It was the farthest right option, the BC Liberals, a solidly centrist party.
Right-wing British Columbians have strategically voted for the BC Liberals for years. They knew the Conservatives were unelectable their last legislature representation disappeared during a floor crossing in 2012.
If proportional representation passes in BC, the Conservatives, which have polled as high as 16 per cent in the non-metropolitan areas of the province, stand a significant chance of sending members to Victoria in the next election.
The only party standing against Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax currently does not have a leader – they will elect one in late February. No candidates have put their name forward, presumably to wait for the results of the referendum which wraps up tomorrow, which will determine the electability of the party.
Right now, all we have are rumours. A likely candidate, Aaron Gunn, spokesman for BC Proud, and the keynote speaker at the latest BCCP convention delivered a staunchly pro-pipeline, anti-carbon tax address to the members.
Aaron Gunn also ran the campaign to keep a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald standing in Victoria, after the Mayor ordered the statue Canada’s founding father ordered it be removed.
I spoke with attendees from the last Conservative convention in BC, and they characterized Gunn’s address as “a warm-up speech, exploring how BC Conservatives would react”. In other words, he hasn’t said yes and he hasn’t said no.
I am continuing to weigh my options and look forward to the results of the referendum. Regardless, British Columbians are tired of the same old policies that have made B.C. an unaffordable place to call home. It’s time for bold new ideas that respect taxpayers, build this province and get the cost of living under control.
All this is to say, if proportional representation passes in BC, the left might be in for a rude awakening, getting a little more than they bargained for.