Summary: Critique of the previous letter-to-the-editor (see below). Straight.com is the online version of Georgia Straight, a high-circulation weekly newspaper in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Title: STV naysayers perpetuate politics’ rampant elitism
By: Daniel Grice, Letter-to-the-editor
Date: February 23, 2006
Who knows best? David Poole [Letters, February 16-23] blasts the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform because they were not computer experts and because they were volunteers. His letter was indicative of the elitist atmosphere that has turned many voters off of our present political system.
I’m sick of politicians telling me that they are experts and know better than your average person. I’m glad our proposed electoral system was chosen by ordinary citizens rather than academics or self-interested politicians who have a hidden agenda. While I personally prefer the single transferable vote (STV), I feel better knowing that 160 people with open minds spent a year studying electoral systems and listening to their fellow citizens before making a decision. They looked carefully at different ways in which we could vote and ran trial elections to see if they liked the results. I trust them because they were interested in what is best for voters and not what is best for politicians.
I’m not alone: 57 percent of British Columbians also trusted the assembly’s recommendation. Until we have a chance to see STV in action for ourselves, why should we listen to elitist naysayers?
> Daniel Grice / Vancouver
Summary: Letter-to-the-editor criticizing a previous letter writer's proposal (see below) for a national Canadian citizens assembly.
Title: Citizens assembly not as unbiased as assumed
By: David Pool, Letter-to-the-editor
Date: February 16, 2006
Oh, Lordy, Lordy! Preserve us from Antony Hodgson [Letters, Jan. 19-26] and his execrable proposal for a “national citizens assembly” to impose single transferable vote (STV) on the country. That is, unless that assembly is far different from the flawed B.C. model.
In B.C., there were 160 volunteer members—no, not randomly selected, as repeatedly claimed. Imagine a jury of volunteers! The assembly members have been praised as hard-working, dedicated, et cetera, and many members were just that. But the only educational requirement was the ability to read and write English. About 25 percent of members were not compute literate and had no access to the Internet. How could the assembly become knowledgeable about the immense complexities of the myriad of electoral systems around the world?
The assembly members did not write the reports. The assembly staff did. The staff were headed by Ken Carty, who was writing learned papers on STV in Ireland as early as 1981. Of course, the staff were conscientiously subtle in easing STV along, except when they blew their cover by selecting a single reference book on electoral systems (out of at least 50 similar books) with a copy issued to every assembly member. That book is by Prof. David Farrell, an Irish political scientist who is the foremost salesman for STV worldwide.
What if they had been issued with copies of a similar book by Prof. Michael Dummett, he with a knighthood and 30 years’ tenure at Oxford University?
Prof Dummett claims that STV is “the second worst system ever devised”.
The B.C. Citizens Assembly was a noble experiment but an unsuccessful one, unless you are easily fooled by smoke and mirrors.
> David Poole / Surrey
Summary: Letter-to-the-editor endorsing a national Canadian citizens assembly.
Title: Virtual election shows superiority of STV
By: Antony Hodgson , Letter-to-the-editor
Date: January 19, 2006
Re: “Ottawa veterans duke it out in Van Centre” [Jan. 5-12]. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no wasted votes in Vancouver Centre, or anywhere else for that matter? The reason there are is that we’re still using the antiquated first-past-the-post system (which should be called closest-to-the-post, since you don’t need even 50 percent to win a race—less than 27 percent was enough in Saskatoon last year).
Only half of Canadians are likely to cast a vote for a winning candidate this year, but if we were using the single transferable vote, at least 83 percent of us would have that privilege, according to the results of the virtual STV federal election now under way at Demochoice.ca. STV would be highly proportional as well: provincewide, no party is winning more than one seat more or less than they’d expect to based on first preferences on the ballot. It’s clearly time for a national citizens assembly on electoral reform.
> Antony Hodgson / Demochoice BC Coordinator / Vancouver