The opponents of proportional representation (PR) have a new ally: Former NDP premier Glen Clark.
Clark has voted against PR in the current referendum campaign.
“I don’t like proportional representation,” Clark said.
Clark, premier from 1996 to 1999, said he’s not a fan of any system where he would be voting for someone whose name is on a party list – one of the proposals in the current referendum, the mixed-member option.
“I like to vote for the person who represents me,” Clark said. “I want to vote for someone who’s going to be accountable.
“If you really want to get more representation, get more seats,” he said.
Clark said he doesn’t understand the intense passion around what he calls a procedural issue.
“It’s definitely more political and partisan than it should be,” Clark said.
British Columbians are currently receiving and voting in a mail-in referendum on changing the province’s voting system.
The choice is keeping the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system or changing to one of three forms of proportional representation.
Clark said the situation has become a political one driven by the BC Green Party shoring up Premier John Horgan’s government.
“The NDP has come around to the issue after successive losses,” said Clark, who served as MLA for Vancouver-Kingsway from 1996 to 2001.
Clark, now president of B.C. billionaire Jim Pattison’s group of companies, said the NDP has embraced the issue due to frustrations with not getting legislature seat numbers that reflect the popular vote under FPTP.
Under that system, Clark’s government received 39 of 75 seats in the legislature with 39.45% of the vote.
Gordon Campbell’s Liberals received 41.82 % of the vote and 33 seats.
“I like majority governments,” Clark said.
Under PR, Clark said, parties have to make compromises to form government in the glare of public scrutiny. That’s what happened with the NDP and the Greens following the May 2017 general election. A series of discussions and compromises led to the confidence and supply agreement allowing the NDP to form a government.
The BC Liberals were ousted as a result. Clark said compromises should be made inside parties.