Electoral reform from a third party perspective

By Brenlee Brothers

March 4, 2016

Island Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker calls himself an accidental politician.

As a descendent of George Brown, a father of Confederation, he completes a political circle dating back to1867.

On Baker’s first day as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Charlottetown, he had no idea what he was doing, but he proposed an amendment for a potato motion to serve his role as the third party.

As the only third party member in the legislature, it’s difficult to exert influence as a single tinge of green, Bevan-Baker said.

“It’s not an environment in which I thrive.”

It’s for this reason he supports the electoral reform.

Currently, Prince Edward Island uses a first-past-the-post system, which awards the candidate with the most votes in each of the 27 districts the seat. The party with the most seats forms the government.

Proportional representation would allow all voters to contribute to the provincial government. If a party received over 50 per cent of the votes, instead of forming a majority government, they would reserve half of the seats in the legislature and the remaining seats would go to the other parties.

Changing the electoral system to a proportional representation will minimize the opportunity for abuse of power, Bevan-Baker said.

Proportional representation will reflect the wishes of the electorate, it will encourage collaboration and it will create an effective opposition, Bevan-Baker said.

 

Derrick C. Biso is a Graphic Design student at Holland College.

As a Green Party candidate in the 2015 election, Biso recognizes the need for change in P.E.I.’s electoral system.

It’s not that Islanders don’t want change, Biso said.

“I believe we haven’t been offered change.”

Our system needs to be a direct democracy, we really need to negotiate, he said.

Right now, the party system is confusing. There needs to be an interdependent relationship between parties, where neither is above the other, Biso said.

“We need to be very educated and very enlightened as a people in order for that to work.

“But we had it before, that was the basis of our first societies.”

P.E.I. has a district-based, regional-based representation where Islanders know their MLAs, he said.

“We have a regional-based ideal, but we have a party-based system. It’s all about the party leaders.”

Paradigm shifts are necessary, because we don’t know what we need, he said.

“But we are starting to address the imbalances.”

 

 

 

 

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