(Black Press Media file photo)

COLUMN: Pro rep puts voters in the centre of democracy

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon offers his views on electoral reform

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon. (Photo submitted)

The North Delta Reporter reached out to Delta’s two MLA’s — Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon (BC NDP) and Delta South MLA Ian Paton (BC Liberal) — to get their thoughts about the current referendum on electoral reform and what it means for Deltans. Read Paton’s column here.

During the 2017 B.C. election, I had the pleasure of speaking to voters across North Delta. People all had different things to say when I knocked on their doors, but one common thread existed among our conversations. People were tired of hearing politicians fighting. They wanted to see more cooperation in order to get things done for the residents of our community. They felt that with a system that that allowed a party with 40 percent of the vote to get 100 percent of the power, their vote would not count.

A healthy democracy is one in which all citizens vote. However, many young people simply don’t vote because they don’t think it will make difference. I cannot tell you how heartbreaking that is, especially when I looked at young volunteers in my campaign office and thought of the potential B.C.’s youth have to make positive change in our province.

We have the historic opportunity to change that. By switching to proportional representation, power will be put back in the hands of British Columbians, as parties will work together to make this province a better place, and will restore youth engagement in democracy.

RELATED: John Horgan, Andrew Wilkinson square off on B.C. voting referendum

Instead of helping that become a reality, the BC Liberals have chosen to mislead people with misinformation and fearmongering — making people believe that their regional issues will be ignored. That is simply not true. In reality, regional representation will be protected under any of the three proposed pro rep systems. Voters in every region in B.C. will have a stronger voice with pro rep.

Pro rep systems also create an incentives to run more diverse slates of candidates. Growing up as a South Asian Canadian, I know how important it is for young people to see people who represent them. With pro rep, we will be able to elect more women and more people of colour, so our legislature reflects the diversity of our province.

Pro rep means parties will need to work together to get the job done, and such cooperation delivers amazing results. We see that today with a minority New Democrat government working with B.C. Green MLAs to bring in change that people need so desperately, such as the beginnings of a universal child care program, an affordable housing plan, and so much more.

RELATED: British Columbians in ‘dead heat’ on electoral reform: poll

Andrew Wilkinson’s own party doesn’t use a first-past-the-post system when choosing their leaders. In fact, he said the BC Liberal Party preferential ballot system “ensures the majority of the party are comfortable supporting one particular candidate.” So when it comes to his own party members, he doesn’t think it’s fair for a minority of voters to pick the leader. But when it comes to British Columbians, he still thinks a party with 40 per cent of the votes should get 100 per cent of the power. Frankly speaking, it’s sad to see a party trying so hard to hold onto an outdated system that puts power in the hands of a few people.

I have heard people across B.C. say how tired they are of parties not working for British Columbians, but rather for their own self-interests. If you too are tired of the polarization and partisanship that has drowned out people’s voices, vote with me for pro rep, a way of voting that will put British Columbians back in the centre of politics.

Ravi Kahlon is the BC NDP MLA for Delta North and parliamentary secretary for sport and multiculturalism.



editor@northdeltareporter.com

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