Opinion-editorial by Brenda Oslawsky and Marie Burge
The Prince Edward Island Coalition for Proportional Representation (PEIPR) is pleased that Islanders are receiving more information about the November, 2016 plebiscite on electoral reform. The legislature’s Special Committee on Democratic Renewal has presented its report regarding the plebiscite question and this will soon be debated in the legislature.
PEIPR, as a network of 13 community organizations and more than 120 individuals, supports two of the five choices listed in the recommended plebiscite question. Both Dual Member Proportional (DMP) and Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) produce election results that, among other things, will see the number of legislative seats reflect the total popular vote received by each political party. We know there is no perfect system but both these models contain many favourable features.
In community forums sponsored by the legislature’s Special Committee, many Islanders pressed for electoral systems that could work for P.E.I. There is a hunger for change. However, because many people are not yet engaged in this issue, more work is needed to promote greater interest in the plebiscite.
Using the votes from the May, 2015, provincial election as an example, both MMP and DMP would provide the following approximate results.
- Party A = 40.8% = 11 seats;
- Party B = 37.4% = 10 seats;
- Party C = 11.0% = 3 seats
- Party D = 10.8% = 3 seats
Both proportional systems, MMP and DMP, would prevent lopsided legislatures in which the opposition would consist of only one or two MLAs. They also ensure that every vote counts and every voter counts.
In our view, these two PR options would give P.E.I. a fairer voting system. The other three options – First Past the Post; First Past the Post Plus Leader; and Preferential Voting – would do nothing to ensure that our legislature would reflect the way citizens vote. In that sense, they are not fair.
The PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation supports the work of the PR Action Team, a coalition member focused on developing a public campaign in support of proportional representation. We echo the PR Action Team’s belief that Islanders are intelligent citizens with a great deal of political experience. Informed Islanders committed to the good of their community will make good choices. We believe that they will embrace the chance to lead the way in Canada and introduce proportional representation to P.E.I.
Brenda Oslawsky of Fair Vote PEI and Marie Burge of the Cooper Institute are members of the Prince Edward Island Coalition for Proportional Representation.