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Submission MASER-1574 (Online)

Submission By Michael Maser
AddressGibsons, BC,
CategoryElectoral system change
MMP would help reduce voter turnoff and cynicism and it would improve the resiliency of our communities, cities and regions in dealing with increasingly complex issues, challenges and problems. [2 pages]

Submission Content
At the outset I would like to thank the Citizens' Assembly for this opportunity, and for your time and efforts on behalf of this valuable contribution to democracy.

I am in favour of a Mixed Member Proportional Representation [MMP] electoral system in British Columbia. As a citizen who has voted in many elections in this province, I despair for our present electoral system which consistently leaves me and many other voters highly dissatisfied with electoral results that do not accurately reflect voting outcomes. There is no better example of a horribly skewed electoral outcome than that which allowed for, and created the present grossly unbalanced makeup of our provincial legislature.

To my mind, our antiquated, first-past-the-post electoral system not only leads to sham democracy that excludes legitimate representation in government, it produces widespread voter apathy, cynicism and rancor, something I consider deeply regrettable.

But the main point I wish to emphasize to you today is that I feel strongly that our present electoral system undermines the ‘resilience’ of governments and the citizens of our communities, cities and regions to respond adequately to the challenges and issues arising in our increasingly-complex society. Recently, I read an important book that helped to illustrate this, written by U of T professor and researcher Thomas Homer-Dixon. Entitled “The Technology Gap”, the book posited and demonstrated that the ability of our society to meet challenges is increasingly imperiled by an ever-expanding matrix of risk factors, most of which can be traced to human foible.

The kind of examples that illustrate this are quite simply the most poignant problems facing us, including but not limited to: How to ensure safety of our food supply, how to safeguard the environment and our precious resources, how to provide adequate health care, how to reduce militarism and terrorism and poverty, how to address issues arising in an increasingly wired world, or how to adjust to a world in which the supplies of petroleum are known to be in decline at the same time demand is rising.

I’m sure you agree that meeting these, among other challenges requires the best of human ingenuity that we – including our governments - can muster. Unfortunately, our ability to accomplish this greatly is impeded by our present electoral system which works against this process through each electoral cycle from voting night until the next election by creating an outcome of pseudo “winners” who characteristically perform their governmental duties based on partisanship.  Partisanship, in turn, stifles democracy and reduces the availability of political options required for addressing complex challenges.

In the best examples of modern problem-solving, complex challenges are faced and resolved by governments not through narrow, partisan ideology or edict but when differing perspectives are valued and taken into consideration. Such differing perspectives nurture processes that encourage ‘beyond-the-box’ thinking, collaboration and occasional compromise which work, in turn, to expand government’s problem-solving potentiality.

My fellow citizens, it has been long-recognized in the field of cybernetics that the person or system with the most choices or options has the greatest chance of succeeding or reaching a stated goal.  From the field of ecology, as well, we now know that ecological resilience – that is, the ability for ecosystems to meet challenges and retain stability in the face of unexpected events - depends upon the complex interaction between biogeoclimatic systems and a range of flora and fauna broad enough – or biodiverse enough - so that species commonly interact and overlap in the unstated service of maintaining ecosystem balance and resilience.

I think these examples drawn from cybernetics and biodiversity are inspiring, valuable models that tell us that in the forest and the swamp, and wherever human systems have evolved, the system with the most options has the greatest chance of resolving or surviving challenges.

To sum, I want my governments to gain such advantages, and I believe that in order to acquire this ability, and improve government resiliency, we must modify our electoral system and expand the political options available in government. 

To best accomplish this, I am in favour of adopting a Mixed Member Proportion, or MMP, electoral system, and I urge the Assembly to put this option to the BC electorate through a referendum question to be posed at the time of next spring’s provincial election.

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