Former BC NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh opposes Proportional Representation and warns British Columbians of potential for extremist parties being elected to Legislature; Dosanjh says referendum also unfair without riding boundaries, details of Pro Rep systems: “We are voting in absolute darkness.”

Ujjal Dosanjh, former BC New Democratic Party Premier, today said he opposes proportional representation electoral systems that will be voted on in a fall referendum and warned that BC could see extremist parties elected under proportional representation.

Dosanjh also said the referendum is unfair to voters because it does not provide them with geographic riding boundaries or details on how three different proposed proportional representation systems would work or require either a voter turnout threshold or a strong majority for change.

“We are voting in absolute darkness,” Dosanjh says. “And changing to proportional representation means just 5% of voters across BC could elect extremist MLAs to the Legislature.”

Dosanjh, BC NDP Premier in 2000-2001 and later a federal Liberal Minister of Health from 2004 to 2006, said the referendum is proceeding in an undemocratic way by not providing voters with enough information about complicated and confusing proportional representation systems and allowing change to happen without significant support.

“We could be making fundamental changes without any voter turnout threshold,” Dosanjh said. “Changing Canada’s constitution requires two-thirds of the provinces in favour with at least 50% of the population – why are we considering changing our electoral system indefinitely with far less support than that?”

Dosanjh says he supports the No BC Proportional Representation Society’s bid to be the official opponent group receiving government funding to oppose proportional representation and support retaining our current First Past The Post electoral system.

“Look at Europe and the rise of extremist right-wing parties with anti-immigrant, anti-refugee positions – why would we encourage the election of MLAs from fringe parties of the right or the left in BC?” Dosanjh asked. “First Past The Post keeps those extremists out of our Legislature because they can’t win geographic ridings with their views.”

No BC Proportional Representation Society President Bill Tieleman says Dosanjh’s message is important for all British Columbians but particularly New Democrat and Green voters.

“Former Premier Dosanjh’s warning about the dangerous risks of proportional representation should worry New Democrats and Greens considering changing our electoral system and opening the door of the BC Legislature to extremists,” Tieleman said. “Mr. Dosanjh has shown his own courage in opposing extremists here in BC in the past and faced personal violence as a result – his words need to be heeded.”

Dosanjh said that while he is a supporter of the BC NDP government generally, he opposes its approach to the referendum this fall.

“British Columbians should not give a blank cheque to the NDP government and the BC Green Party by voting yes to proportional representation and letting the riding boundaries and details be decided by their MLAs after the referendum,”

Dosanjh said. Dosanjh said he is supporting the No BC Proportional Representation Society in its application to be the opponent group opposing proportional representation and supporting retaining our current First Past The Post electoral system in the fall referendum.

 No BC Proportional Representation Society President Bill Tieleman is a veteran NDP supporter who was president of NO BC STV in both referendums in 2005 and 2009 when the Single Transferable Vote was defeated in binding referenda. Vice-President Suzanne Anton is a former BC Liberal Attorney General. Treasurer Bob Plecas is a retired BC Deputy Minister who served in many portfolios.

 The No BC Proportional Representation Society will work to defeat any proportional representation system proposed for the fall 2018 referendum schedule and support the current First Past The Post electoral system that has served BC well.

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