Letter to the Editor: Ranked ballots the way to go

The following is an open letter from Prince Rupert resident Blair Mirau to Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen

The following is an open letter from Prince Rupert resident Blair Mirau to Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen:

Hi Nathan,

I apologize for being unable to attend your recent electoral reform meeting in Prince Rupert, however, I wanted to provide you with my feedback on your work holding the Liberal Party accountable that 2015 was the last First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) election.

Although, I am a Prince Rupert city councillor, I am writing as a private citizen with no political party affiliations, hoping that I can positively add to the conversation on electoral reform.

Living in one of the largest and most diverse ridings in Canada, it’s extremely important to preserve and strengthen local representation in Skeena-Bulkley Valley. It’s also vital to have an electoral system that is easy to explain and simple to understand.

In 2005 and 2009, the B.C. single transferable vote referendums both failed because people weren’t convinced how a new and more complicated system was actually a benefit.

My perspective: offering Canadians a ranked ballot is the most effective, simplest and easiest alternative to achieve meaningful reform before the next election:

1) Ranked ballots strengthen local representation. Right now, 30 per cent of the vote can win a three-way race, but ranked ballots ensure MPs are the preferred choice of 50+1 per cent of their constituents.

2) Ranked ballots offer more choice. Instead of just one vote, we can add a second choice. We can add a third or fourth choice. Or we can stick with our number one option. More options are good.

3) Ranked ballots are simple and easy. The only change required would be turning check marks to numbers on the ballot. No redistribution of ridings or changing the number of MPs.

4) Ranked ballots reduce “strategic voting.” No more voting for someone just so someone else doesn’t win. We can in good conscience put our favoured choice as number one.

5) Ranked ballots improve political campaigns. Instead of appealing to the “fringe” or the “base,” or smothering the opposition in attack ads, a ranked ballot system encourages candidates and parties to be appealing as a preferred choice.

I understand the NDP favours proportional representation (PR) to match popular vote with the number of seats in Parliament. But ranked ballots achieve everything that the NDP supports about PR: it increases voter turnout, creates more diversity and gender balance, and doesn’t lead to instability.

No democracy is perfect, but we have a real opportunity for change after the Liberals promised that 2015 was the last election using FPTP.

I greatly appreciate your time and energy in this process, and I hope I’ve been able to provide you with a constructive contribution.

Blair Mirau

Prince Rupert