29 January 2009

BC NDP and Electoral Reform - Part 3

Part 2 here.

The following is my Dec. 18th response to Carole James' email. To date, I've not received a response.

Dear Ms. James:

Thank you for your response outlining the NDP's intentions should the STV referendum succeed or fail.

I would appreciate further clarity about your intentions in the event that STV again achieves majority support, but does not cross the 60% threshold. In particular, you have stated the following (to the BC Citizens' Assembly):

"The NDP reaffirms its position that electoral reform should emerge from an open and democratic process of public consultation culminating in a provincial referendum. In that process, political parties should take a back seat to citizens. We therefore reaffirm our support for the independence of the Citizens' Assembly and express our confidence that it will succeed in offering for public approval an electoral system that meets the aspirations and best interests of British Columbians."

Given this statement, what "open and democratic process" would you propose to follow "to work for an electoral system that is fair and balanced"? Will you convene a new Citizens' Assembly followed by a referendum with a 60% threshold, or will you move more directly towards implementing some version of MMP? In the latter case, how would you justify this action in the light of your previous statement that "political parties should take a back seat to citizens" and in the face of both the 80-20 vote against MMP by the Citizens' Assembly and the failure of MMP in two provincial referendums? In short, do you see a path forward for electoral reform that would be consistent both with your statements to the Citizens' Assembly and with how you propose to treat the results of the upcoming STV referendum?

Supporters of MMP would be particularly interested in the answer to this question. Opponents of STV have sometimes argued that a vote against STV is not necessarily a vote against reform, but for MMP advocates to take this claim seriously and use it to inform their own referendum vote, they must know how the NDP and the Liberals would interpret the referendum results and what the parties would plan to do in response - particularly in response to a majority which does not exceed the 60% threshold. I therefore ask you to clearly spell out your intentions in this event.

Also do you personally (i.e., not as official NDP policy) disagree with the following two statements:

1. STV provides greater proportionality in the allocation of seats in the Legislature.
2. STV ensures significant local representation and makes appropriate provision for the representation of rural communities and remote regions of our province.

Chrystal Ocean

It took one month to get a response to my first email which, given the time of year, probably isn't bad. To get a response at all to one of my NDP-addressed emails was a first. When writing on behalf of WISE, I received not a single reply.

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