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Electoral reform – no need to reinvent the wheel, we have BC STV

Five’ll get you 10 that the deal to give us four years of a ‘stable minority government’ won’t last four years.

The margins are too slim and too much can happen in four years to expect that the NDP/Green alliance in Victoria can last a full four years. In addition, it’s still unclear what Lt.-Governor Judith Guichon will decide.

Even though a minority government won’t likely last, assuming NDP leader John Horgan becomes premier with the support of Green leader Andrew Weaver and his caucus of three, it doesn’t mean the alliance can’t work in the short term.

There has been plenty of talk about what the parties have offered the Greens for their support and that Weaver sits in the driver’s seat.

I’m not so sure that’s quite the case.

With the exception of federally in the mid-2000s, minority governments are rarely replaced with another minority. A majority is the usual outcome.

I’m sure all three provincial leaders are aware of that.

And in B.C., at least for now, that majority won’t be a Green one. That means Weaver has to tread very carefully. Toppling a minority government without sufficient Green gains provincially will relegate the ‘kingmaker’ back to an annoyance at the back of the Legislature.

It’s also why bringing in electoral changes in the form of proportional representation is high on the Greens agenda. It’s unlikely Weaver and the Green caucus will be willing to bring down the government until a proportional representation is in place. Forget official party status and campaign finance reform, proportional representation is the real issue for the Greens.

With 16 per cent of the popular vote in the May 19 election, proportional representation would have given the Greens 17 seats. Quite a difference from the three they have now.

They have to get some form of proportional representation in place before British Columbians go to the polls again to remain a legitimate player in British Columbia politics.

The next question is what kind of system should the province adopt. I don’t think anyone wants a repeat of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s electoral reform preference … ranked balloting that favours that favours the Liberal Party. It’s a given that any kind of proportional representation system will inherently favour the Green Party, so developing a system that doesn’t appear to be self-serving is tough.

Hold on … we’ve already done this, and we did it properly. Give former premier Gordon Campbell credit, he struck a Citizen’s Assembly made of, gasp, ordinary British Columbians from across the province (no politicians allowed), and tasked them with devising a change to our electoral system.

They came up with the B.C. Single Transferable Vote system, which almost secured the double majority needed (60 per cent of the popular vote and a pass in 60 per cent of the ridings) when we voted on it in a referendum. When we voted on it a second time, the electoral upheaval that prompted examining change in the first place, had settled down so voters weren’t keen on changing.

No system is going to be perfect, but BC STV is as good as any of the others.

If we’re going back down the proportional representation road, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. We have a system that was devised here in B.C. without political interference, without the goal of favouring one party over another. In fact, the Green Party didn’t even have an elected MLA when BC STV was developed so it can’t be accused trying to gerrymander electoral reform.

Could the third time be lucky for BC STV?

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