Yea or Nay? Proportional Representation In the North

By Todd Corrigall | CEO of Prince George Chamber of Commerce
November 6, 2018 - 11:04am

We have seen a variety of information campaigns on the pros and cons of proportional representation – most of which fall dramatically short of fundamental answers to two burning questions: what will ridings look like if implemented and how will we be represented.

Finally, a leader’s debate has been scheduled for Thursday, November 8th between Premier Horgan and Official Opposition Leader, Andrew Wilkinson. Perhaps these questions will be answered, but likely not.

Cabinet Ministers cannot, or will not, answer these fundamentally important questions, which should result in simple and easily explained responses, given electoral reform was a key component of their platform.

Personally, I have received three voter packages for individuals who do not reside at my address. When I asked Elections BC how I could ensure these voters were not disenfranchised, I was told to put them in my mailbox with a note indicating they were not at this address and Canada Post would return them to Elections BC. Five business days later…those packages remain in my mailbox.

BC, not unlike other Provinces, is diverse and wide-ranging on the political spectrum. However, we face unique challenges in the north that the Lower Mainland and Island may not fully grasp. Our weather shifts dramatically, which requires additional infrastructure spending to maintain our highway system. Wildfires seem to be the new normal, leading to increased costs associated with forest maintenance and assisting those who have been displaced.

Northern BC is the economic driver for BC. Forestry, mining, oil and gas, and all of the support services required to keep these industries moving are predominantly located north of Hope. Like it or not, we are a resource based economy and this requires locally elected officials who understand the unique challenges of these regions and industries and can be here to listen to their constituents.

Any form of proportional representation puts industry and business at risk of not being “at the table”. Will an appointed MLA, say from Nanaimo, fight for Prince George businesses the way a locally elected MLA will? I highly doubt it.

Through the BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting, the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, and most Chambers across BC voted on a resolution stating that the process was flawed - requesting the Government slow the process down and produce adequate public input.

Regardless of your personal and political beliefs, our elected officials are here to serve and support the regions they live in and are elected to represent. Taking a leap of faith does nothing to grow and reinforce our economy.

On this issue, I am voting to keep our local MLA’s local - which means saying ‘No’ to proportional representation.

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