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OPINION: Be careful what you ask for

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John Barrett

Guest Opinion

During this current era of fluctuating global economies, increasing trade disputes, border obsession and overall voter dissatisfaction, there has become an overwhelming level of frustration that has resulted in both a lack of trust and a movement towards voting-in-protest. While many electorates have adopted the ‘change’ perspective when going to the polls, we have clearly witnessed the disruption and instability that such protest votes have caused.

Having been in the U.K. during and immediately following the Brexit vote, the outcome was a shocking surprise to many who voted, including those who exercised their franchise by voting for change.

Once the ramifications of leaving the European Union were fully unveiled, many of those who contributed to the slim majority seeking change were calling for another vote as they had not fully understood what this change would mean for the country’s economy and future as a leading world nation.

Countries seeking electoral reform such as Iceland, Belgium, Sweden and others have now found themselves in difficult, if not impossible, situations as their residents voted for change based on discontent rather than understanding the ramifications of what could (and did), lie ahead.

Prince Edward Island will soon be faced with two important decisions that will shape not only our economy but our entire way of life for some time to come. Coupled with our next provincial election which will determine the political party that will govern our province for several years ahead, we will be given the opportunity to either preserve the traditional first-past-the-post system of elections or adopt a dramatic change to the manner in which we elect those representing us in the provincial legislature.

It is vital that the electorate of Prince Edward Island study this referendum issue carefully and thoughtfully so as to fully understand the ramifications of what a mixed member proportional representation system could bring to our province. Our 100,000 eligible voters need to make every effort to understand the facts, ignore the fiction behind emotionally based commentary and consider whether their frustration with the way things are now, is worth the risk of irreparable harm that could result in voting for change, simply for the sake of change. The future of our democratic system as we know it, a system that has served us well since Confederation, is at risk and our collective responsibility of making wise, well informed decisions has never been more important than now.

John Barrett (No What To Vote),


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