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OPINION: Our system needs reform

A voter casts a ballot.
A voter casts a ballot. - 123RF Stock Photo

Stephen DeGrace

Guest Opinion

I’m a busy manager in a high-tech industry on P.E.I., and not someone who has traditionally been active in politics. I’m like you, I care, but I also have a lot going on. I would like to explain why, despite this, I am a volunteer with the Vote Yes P.E.I. proponent group, why I think that bringing in mixed member proportional voting (MMP) is the most important opportunity in front of Islanders today.

Our democracy the most important thing we have. It is the root of anything good we might ever want to do. However, the outdated system we have now is chaotic and unstable, and results in arrogant, entitled government through the fake majorities it produces. On P.E.I., we have seen numerous examples of this. Our system needs to be reformed.

Under our present system, many votes elect no one. MMP fixes this. The “scary and complicated” math of MMP is that percent of votes equals percent of seats. Rural P.E.I. in particular will benefit from this equation, since rural P.E.I. is the majority, and under MMP no vote can be taken for granted. Not rural votes, and not the votes of the thousands of Islanders without a family doctor.

The infamous party backroom actually grew up under our first-past-the-post (FPTP) system and thrives under it. Supposedly MMP will make the parties too powerful – but if that’s the case, why aren’t the traditional party backrooms supporting it? MMP will move the focus away from the backrooms and towards the MLAs and the voters.

Parties are a good thing. They let you know what you’re voting for without having to personally interrogate every candidate who’s running. What MMP does is fix the party system by giving voters much more power over the outcome. It gives us all a piece of the pie.

MMP has been used very successfully for many years in New Zealand, Scotland and Germany. Despite this, some proponents of the No side status quo have made some very dramatic and negative pronouncements. We should vote No because we’re too dumb to get MMP, or that “dangerous” MMP will apparently somehow cause P.E.I. to sink beneath the waves.

The message is that Islanders are too small and stupid and frightened to take this step.

I’m here to say that none of these things are true. Islanders grow and make products prized the world over. We have mastered highly advanced technologies and grown multimillion-dollar companies. We are smart, ambitious, entrepreneurial people who can go toe-to-toe with anyone on Earth. We have brought ourselves to this point by mastering many changes, including many improvements to our electoral system over the years. And we are more than capable of being leaders and being an example of reform for the whole country. On April 23rd, let’s vote Yes to MMP and yes to progress in our democracy.

Stephen DeGrace is a Charlottetown resident and a member of Vote Yes P.E.I.

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