By Ann Remnant

Our Kootenay Members of Parliament are touring the area over the next month to collect your input on electoral reform and proportional representation. Be heard on August 16-18 in Creston, Salmo, Ymir, Nelson, Kaslo and Meadow Creek with MP Wayne Stetski and at the Castlegar town hall on electoral reform with MP Richard Cannings on September 1.

I remember June 2015 very well. That was when Trudeau announced that 2015 would be the last election using the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. I had not paid the Liberals much attention, but this changed everything. I was ecstatic. I listened over and over, being sure I heard and understood every word. And then I posted to my Facebook page “Wow, Justin Trudeau…”

I liked the words proportional representation (PR) the first time I heard them because it sounds fair; because I believe all our voices should be at the table. All our voices should be part of the discussion so we can make the best decisions together. Political scientist, Dennis Pilon said, “when people are missing from the table, so are their issues.” I agree. We have a representative government, and that means our government should reflect us, a ‘mini us’ if you like.

There are as many different variations of PR as there are countries, each one designed to fit their countries’ particularities. At heart, all proportional systems have a strong relationship between votes, seats and power.

If the purple party gets 30% of the vote, they get 30% of the seats and 30% of the power, no more, no less.

The symptoms of Canada’s failing FPTP voting system are impossible to ignore. Low voter turnout, apathy, distrust, the dreaded strategic vote, not to mention wasting an entire election campaign just to get rid of one man. We need a made in Canada PR system, a system which is fair for all regions, parties and people of Canada.

This is the best opportunity we’ve had in a lifetime to fix our voting system. Don’t let it slip away. Tell the Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE), tweet it, email it, write it, and phone it. The committee wants to do the right thing, they are waiting to hear from you.

Photo: Better government happens when people cooperate across party lines. Liberals, NDP and Greens at EcoSociety’s July Marketfest in Nelson with “Proportional Please” postcards for the electoral committee. Credit: Stuart Layfield.