Brad Bennett is the former chair of BC Hydro. His father and grandfather were both former Premiers of British Columbia.

COLUMN: Proportional representation means end of big accomplishments

‘Minority governments have no choice but to go where the noise is. We have enough noise in this province.’

Brad Bennett

From increasing tensions in the United States, to a refugee crisis in Europe, and populism and protectionism on the march across the world, we’ve never been more fortunate to be Canadians and British Columbians.

One of the greatest strengths of our society – and our success – has been our democracy. For almost 150 years, our system has functioned extremely well. Canadians know this on an instinctive level.

It’s why we take such pride in the praise, admiration, and even envy we regularly see from around the world.

Canada is viewed as a politically safe, stable democracy, that not only creates a great place to live, but increasingly, it’s a competitive advantage.

It’s an old cliché, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And our democracy is the furthest thing possible from “broke.”

On the contrary, it’s simple, stable, and successful.

Yes, it sometimes leads to unique scenarios, like in 2001, where the opposition was reduced to two seats, or last year, where the balance of power in B.C. was held by the party that finished a very distant third.

But on the whole, our system tends to create stable majority governments, with the mandate and ability to get things done. Right now, that ability to get things done is at risk.

See also: Proportional representation means more B.C. parties, coalitions

Whatever the other supposed merits of proportional representation, one aspect in particular isn’t getting enough attention: The tendency to create weak minority and coalition governments.

Proportional representation campaigners not only admit this, but view it as a key feature. How many of this province’s great accomplishments would have been possible under a minority government?

Consider touchstones like Expo 86, BC Ferries, the Agricultural Land Reserve, ICBC, BC Hydro, the 2010 Olympics, the Coquihalla Highway, Canada’s first carbon tax, and more. You may support some and not others, but they were all contentious at the time.

Under minority governments, it’s likely most, and possibly all, would never have seen the light of day. It’s not because different parties might “win,” or priorities might change.

It’s because a perpetual minority government is like a publicly-traded company where investors focus on short-term gains at the expense of long-term planning and foresight – and quite often change course on the slightest pretext.

All too often, minority governments are forced into short-term dealmaking, react to vocal special interests, and make policy on the fly. For example, the 2010 Olympic bid would have collapsed in the face of noisy protests that represented a fraction of a fraction of British Columbians.

The Agricultural Land Reserve would never have been created, or would have been greatly watered down. And if my father didn’t have a strong majority, Expo 86 would have been collateral damage in the ongoing conflict between unions and private contractors. Majority governments have the ability to develop a long-term vision, and do the right thing for the right reasons.

Minority governments have no choice but to go where the noise is.

We have enough noise in this province.

What we need is the vision to see past the current noise, and the wisdom to protect the democracy that makes us the envy of the world.

Brad Bennett is the former chair of BC Hydro. His father and grandfather were both former Premiers of British Columbia. He is an honorary doctor of laws, and in 2010, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia.

Just Posted

Pedestrian rushed to hospital after being hit by car in Surrey

Friday crash at 88th Avenue and 152nd Street is latest in rash of collisions involving pedestrians

Two women injured in late-night assault outside White Rock restaurant

‘All he had to do was turn around and leave’ - victim

Surrey school district surpasses projected enrolment

Lastest student numbers as of Sept. 30

Delta police warn public of Tsawwassen rental scam

Would-be renter asked to send a $1,300 deposit to a fraudulent Airbnb account

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

Telus launches charitable foundation to help vulnerable youth

The Telus Friendly Future Foundation complements other social initiatives by the company, including Mobility for Good

Police say suspicious death of B.C. artist ruled a homicide

Patrick Zube Aylward’s body was found in a residence on a rural road outside of Seton Portage, west of Lillooet, B.C.

Temporary roads being built in areas affected by landslide in northern B.C.

Emergency Management BC news release says Disaster Financial Assistance is available to eligible residents of the Peace River Regional District who may have been affected by the landslides

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

VIDEO: G-Men seek revenge Saturday night in rematch at Langley Events Centre

Portland’s Winterhawks downed the Vancouver Giants 5-3 during a road trip down south.

Most Read