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OPINION: Referendum is about change

Graphic outlines how proportional representation would work.
Graphic outlines how proportional representation would work. - Contributed

Some people feel threatened by the emergence of the Green Party and still brand it as a fringe party



I must respond to the recent guest opinion by Jeffery Warren Reynolds regarding proportional representation. Nearly every part of it is exaggerated or puts forth false assertions.

It's clear that some people feel threatened by the emergence of the Green Party and still brand it as a fringe party even though the latest polling indicates the party is neck and neck with the traditional parties.

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The Green Party is neither a left wing or right-wing party. The usual characterization is that it's socially liberal and fiscally conservative but we need to move away from that sort of binary framework. Taking a bold stance to deal with climate change, as Greens do, is not a left or right issue but an issue of who will take responsibility to best provide a future in which our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to thrive.

To say it's impossible for co-operation between so called left and right parties is inaccurate. Since the election of the Green Party to the legislature there has been many examples of co-operation between the opposition and the third party.

The first-past-the-post system is very flawed. In Ontario, the Progressive Conservatives gained absolute legislative power with 40 percent of the vote.

A government formed with less than 50 percent does not represent the will of a majority of voters. Proportion representation is fundamentally a more fair and accurate reflection of the electorate.

As for whether PR will create a permanent socialist state, Mr. Reynolds need to get with the times rather than fall back on such Cold War rhetoric. Socialism is far from the boogeyman it was made out to be. European and Commonwealth socialist countries are consistently the happiest, most livable places on Earth. The taxes are high and citizens benefit from it. Healthcare and education is better than in capitalist countries like the U.S. Taxation rates are not something proponents hide.

The Green Party, under the leadership of Peter Bevan-Baker, has had a profound impact on politics in P.E.I., and did so under a first-past-the-post system. Polling above 30 per cent demonstrates Islanders are ready to embrace this real change, which includes affording fair opportunity to other parties such as the NDP.

The upcoming referendum is about change. Do we take the progressive action to change the core of elections on P.E.I., and encourage the election of MLAs that better reflect the Island's increasingly diverse population, or do we cling to an archaic system for the sake of trying to quash the surge of support for additional parties beyond the two that have ping-ponged back and forth over the course of P.E.I. political history?

Proportional representation offers the chance for more accountable governance and it's beyond clear that we need that.

- Isaac Williams is a multi-instrumentalist, videographer and photographer living in Charlottetown.

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