So according to fans of our broken electoral system, they are fighting a noble battle against Nazis, evil Reptilians and, presumably, gluten.
Apparently, the biggest danger to British Columbians is the chance that a new electoral system might enable dangerous fringe parties to hold the balance of power—even though the reality is that extreme governments are more likely to actually gain power under the current electoral system.
Why would racists, religious zealots, or fans of money laundering start their own party, if they can hijack an existing one?
Right now the federal Conservatives are condemning Maxime Bernier as an extremist aberration. This would be the same Bernier who would have been leader of their party—which historically has a slightly less than 50-50 shot at running the country—if he hadn’t pissed off Quebec’s dairy farmers. The final results in the leadership race he “lost” were so close the party destroyed the ballots so no one could double check the results… or because burning ballots is the sign of a healthy democracy or… something…
If the idea of Bernier as prime minister scares the poutine out of you, be sure to toast Andrew Scheer with a big glass of chocolate chaude and be thankful the dairy farmers didn’t fall in love with a right-wing, race-baiting troll like Kellie Leitch.
The top Tory leadership contender was briefly Kevin O’Leary, who practically billed himself as Canada’s answer to Donald Trump.
In Ontario, a few thousand members of Ford Nation signed up for the provincial Tories and less than 65,000 Conservative party members effectively selected Ford as the province’s next premier. Ontario Liberals were in freefall and Ontario voters still haven’t gotten over their NDP-phobia from the Bob Rae era. So the majority of the voters were split between the Liberals, NDP, and Greens and all they have to show for their votes is a buck a beer.
Maybe fans of the current electoral system are warning us against extremists with Nazi support like Faith Goldy—who just got over 25,000 votes for mayor of Toronto. With only 100 signatures Goldy could have run against Ford and taken a shot at the premier’s chair. Or, for that matter, Ford could have followed through on his threat to run for leadership of the federal Tories.
Remember when the Reform Party was considered extreme and the Progressive Conservatives were the voice of bland right-wing reason? Stephen Harper and a few thousand supporters ended that and spun the political dial so far to the right that during the last federal election the federal NDP imploded when Tom Mulcair inexplicably promised to balance the budget.
In B.C., our provincial Liberals, the con artists formerly known as Socreds, had to elect Bill Vander Zalm to give up their permanent hold on the premier’s office. For those of you too young to remember or lucky enough to have forgotten—Vander Zalm lived in a Christian theme park, outlawed sex education in schools and was elected premier with a promise of lowering the price of beer.
Now B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson is trying to scare voters away from pro rep by suggesting fringe parties could spring up under leaders with an agenda like, Vander Zalm or Bernier or Ford.
As it is Wilkinson landed his job because he scored enough fifth-choice ballots to leapfrog over B.C. Liberal candidates who actually had passionate supporters. Maybe Wilkinson would have gone back to his old job with those hippie radicals at B.C. Civil Liberties Association—who just dismissed his dire warnings against pro-rep and urged British Columbians who are fans of democracy to vote yes.
In 2011, Christy Clark, squeaked by Kevin Falcon on the B.C. Liberal party’s final party leadership ballot. During that race environmental filmmaker Jon Cooksey convinced between 3,000 and 5,000 environmentalists to pay a few bucks to join the B.C. Liberals specifically to vote against Falcon because he was pro-fracking. So a few thousand voters who wouldn’t have voted Liberal in a general election with a gun to their Prius, handed Clark the premier’s chair.
Falcon was so impressed with the fairness of the leadership selection process that earlier this year he demanded independent third-party oversight into B.C. party leadership campaigns. I’ll throw this to the serious poli-sci nerds, but have the B.C. Liberals ever run a leadership campaign that every candidate agreed was run cleanly? Spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure the answer is hell, no. Good thing they’re offering to safeguard democracy.
Whether the B.C. Liberals had selected Wilkinson, any of their other candidates, or a faded Doug Ford lawn sign, they’d still have a better than 50-50 shot at running the province under our current electoral system.
First past the post is long past it’s best-before date. It wasn’t built to support democracy, it was built to prop up an antiquated two-party system. That’s why most countries have moved into the 21st century, or at least the 20th and adopted some form or ProRep.
But the B.C. Liberals are warning against the dangers of a coalition government even though B.C. has been run by coalitions for over half a century—ever since W.A.C. Bennett rallied the “anybody but the Godless socialists vote” under the Social Credit banner. He convinced B.C. Liberals, Tories, and right wingers of all stripes to sign on as Socreds.
When the Socreds self-destructed and Gordon Campbell rebranded the anti-NDP coalition as “Liberals”, he only lost his first attempt at running the province because he refused to play nicely with B.C.’s other right-wing parties. I know this because I interviewed the people who ran those parties for the Georgia Straight and wrote a story just before election day explaining that this was why he was going to lose.
After that, Campbell learned how to build a coalition government the Socred way—cutting deals behind closed doors. He invited all those scary actors that today’s B.C. Liberals are warning us will destroy our values to join, you guessed it, the B.C. Liberals.
This nightmare scenario Wilkinson is warning against—in which a terrifying fringe party will hold the balance of power—would, of course, require another party to agree to work with it. So if Wilkinson is concerned any of B.C.’s major parties would prefer to work with Nazis or evil Reptilians than with each other, maybe they’re not that mainstream.