FPTP: Stacking the Deck on Electoral Reform


There are many talented and experienced people in all shades of the political spectrum, but you can’t help but suspect that the ones who have gained and kept power all these years will top the heap. For voters, this ability is a double-edged sword.

While we are supposed to be trusting these people’s ability to run our country and province for us, we also have to keep an eye out for when their actions are self-serving instead. The First Past the Post argument is one of those situations.

Reading Between the Lines

You have to look for the little hints. Check the words people use, the phrases they repeat, and you can figure out what drives them. My last post noted the FPTP use of the expression, “power, legitimacy, status, and resources,” as revealing of what this group considers politics to be all about.

In today’s post I will deal with another revealing phrase from the same Tuesday, April 9 issue of the Vancouver Sun. They characterize the anti-FPTP argument to be:

“an as-yet-undefined or explained alternative proportional representation system.”

The Definition of Proportional Representation

This phrase is a very clever trick, and it relates back to the past two times BC went to referrendum on this subject. In both those votes, the FPTP was stacked up against one other version of Proportional Representation. Just one. There are four standard forms used worldwide at the moment. But the Gordon Campbell Liberals used a very democratic process to determine one specific form, the Single Transferrable Vote, which they put up against their tried-and-true candidate for the voters to choose. How democratic!

With predictable results. All the Liberal supporters voted for FPTP. All the STV supporters voted for STV. And many of the supporters of the other three forms voted against STV because it was rather disruptive to the election system. They were willing to stay with the status quo rather than take a wild chance on something they didn’t really understand, or if they did understand, they thought they had something better.

Clever Tactics

So to attack the “as-yet-undefined” nature of the anti-Proportional Representation argument is a great stratagem. To one segment of the population, it plays on the fear of the unknown. To a more progressive and knowledgable segment, it challenges people to present a single option, which, as we mention above, can then be trashed by everyone.

A Fair Referrendum

Of course, these plebescites are run on a FPTP format. There is only one FPTP type of election that is completely fair: one with only two options. But the options must be truly equal. No apples against oranges with the grapes and peaches left off, like last time.

You Can Make it Fair

There are only two defences against this kind of misdirection. First is a truly fair referendum question, which must simply be “For reform or against reform.” That is the question the government needs answered. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. More than two options on a FPTP ballot, even hidden options like in the last referrendum, make it void.

The second defence is voter education. If you take the time to find out about these matters, you can see through these machinations and make the right choice for you. Watch out for people who talk about a “full and fair debate.” That also means the chance for the rich and powerful to spend tons of money on advertising to persuade you.

And Then the Lies

I will not dignify the “…as-yet-unexplained” part of the statement with any discussion, because Bill Tieleman, Suanne Anton, and Bob Plecas have told a direct lie in a national newspaper. Sorry folks: no sugar coating, no good manners. The person who tells you that the other forms of Proportional Representation are “not explained” is lying to the general public. Don’t fall for it. Go online and find out for yourself. The various forms of Proportional Representation are available and explained, and have been so since 2005.




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