Wednesday, May 13, 2009

STV overwhelmingly defeated with 61% vote for FPTP! NO STV thanks BC voters

Thanks to everyone who supported the NO STV campaign and effort in the May 12 provincial referendum on electoral systems!

STV was overwhelmingly defeated as BC voted 61% in favour of our current First Past The Post electoral system versus 39% for STV.

The following is a news release on the results from NO STV, which I am honoured to be president of.

* * * * *

NO STV

Official Proponent - NO to the Single Transferable Vote - May 2009 Referendum

NEWS RELEASE Tuesday May 12, 2009

NO STV pleased and relieved that Single Transferable Vote proposal defeated in May 12 provincial referendum

VANCOUVER – NO STV, the group opposing the Single Transferable Vote, is pleased and relieved that British Columbia voters have rejected the STV proposal in the May 12 provincial referendum on electoral systems.

NO STV President Bill Tieleman said tonight that voters have spoken clearly in the second referendum on the STV.

As of 11 pm Tuesday, the results stood at 61 per cent in favour of maintaining the current First Past The Post system.

“NO STV said throughout this referendum campaign that the Single Transferable Vote was a bad idea for British Columbia and tonight voters agreed,” Tieleman said. “Our strategy was to give voters as much information as possible about the problems with STV and let them decide for themselves – that worked.”

NO STV Secretary-Treasurer David Schreck said the vote marks an end to debate about STV.

“Whether the province continues with our current First Past The Post electoral system or considers other alternatives, it is clear that STV is no longer an option,” Schreck said.

Shreck said NO STV has no position as an organization on future discussion of electoral reform but that some of its supporters believe there are other systems better than either STV or FPTP.

“It is now up to the provincial government and opposition to listen to British Columbians and respond democratically and openly to their views,” he said.

NO STV Vice-President Rick Dignard gave credit to British Columbians for BC-STV for running a strong campaign and encouraging public debate about our electoral process.

“Regardless of the rejection of STV, this referendum has energized discussion of our democratic institutions and that can only be positive,” said Dignard, a former BC Citizens Assembly representative for the Sunshine Coast who disagreed with the Assembly’s majority recommendation of STV in 2004.

NO STV’s other directors include former Social Credit cabinet minister Bruce Strachan and Vision Vancouver city councilor Andrea Reimer, a former Green Party Vancouver school trustee.

Other active members include former provincial deputy minister Bob Plecas, former NDP cabinet minister Anne Edwards, former Citizens Assembly member Jyoti Gill, Trinity Western University political science professor John Redekop and business owner Paul Gill.

.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

And Carole James goes down in flames. I for one endorse her staying on for another two elections.

DPL said...

Hopefull the issue is closed, but I sort of doubt it. Some people like to wear hair shirts and beat themselves with sticks. Some improvements in our system of government would be helpful. Maybe actually get a question or so answered in question period for a start.Accountable, open government doesn't exist in BC and it will be more of the same until the next time, that is if Saint Gordo allows an election be held.You guys gained converts by saying NO as the STV team never left the starting gate.

Jes Gőlbez said...

Congrats! Your scared tactics obviously worked. The laziness of BCers never ceases to amaze me.

"“Regardless of the rejection of STV, this referendum has energized discussion of our democratic institutions and that can only be positive,”"

No, the establishment will bury any further mention of electoral reform and we'll be stuck with our deeply flawed FPTP system for another 30 years.

A sad day, all around.

Rod Smelser said...

I am relieved that STV failed.

Had it been approved, we would had a choice between computerized voting or total chaos. And unfortunately many of the most passionate electoral reform enthusiasts are among those most suspicious of computerized voting, so there was a great liklihood that we would have been into manual STV election in 2013, and probably some kind of constitutional crisis along with it.

I have a theory that Gordon Campbell's Citizens Assembly was a clever means of taking electoral reform enthusiasts and sending them on a wild goose chase, so they didn't have time for actual politics.

Tired of Hyperboyle said...

I for one will be glad when Bill stops ranting about this.

Grab your matches and torches - we're heading back to the dark ages.

DPL said...

Everyone has the right to be pleased whn something they explain in a detailed manner gets support. Heck a woman we know never heard of the referenda till less tha 24 hours before the big event. I mentioned before that the TV discussion probrably sold more people of the STV idea . So we move on. And really if we can't stand a reasoned argument , debate the folks who lost it might go find a blog to comiserate with others of like mind. Don't shoot the messanger.
As for lazy BC voters , consider that around 53 percent took enough interest to even vote in the election.

Concerned Citizen said...

Congrats, Bill, a proud moment in your political career: the spin doctor who fought tooth and nail to defend the neo-feudal, 200-year-old parliamentary status quo! Bravo! But be warned, Sir Tieleman, there's a price to pay for your staunch support of a corrupt electoral system that, on rare occasion, lets your NDP hold absolute power for a few years. Said NDP likely have a much better chance of holding any power at all in the future under a prop-rep system than they do under the f-p-p system. Unless the BC Conservatives miraculously rise to become a political force, the right-wing remains undivided, and Campbell (and his sons) may well be holding the throne for the next 10 elections.

While every post-war modern democracy has moved forward with some version or another of PR, Canada remains in the dark ages, and you applaud this as a great victory? A proud moment for democracy? Ha!

A horrified Angus Reid noted last night that yesterday's turnout was the lowest in BC history! Does it occur to you, Tieleman, that this growing apathy is symptomatic of our first-past-post system, which has little regard for popular votes, little respect for diverse political expression, and allows a leader to run the province single-handedly (with his unelected dark knights like Martyn Brown) out of the Premier's Office? Is this really something to celebrate? STV is no magic remedy (no one on the yes side ever claimed it was), but it is a start and would have made a significant dent in this corrupt voting system you and your cohorts defend with such vigorous dogma.

Bravo Tieleman, a job well done to preserve the status quo!!

And one last observation. The reason STV was defeated was not so much due to your valiant efforts, but because of a low voter turnout (see above) and the fact that the Yes side didn't have seasoned, experienced spin doctors like you and Schreck, who - and I give you this - brilliantly presented your case in a way that scared voters by playing the "it's too difficult" card; not to mention your effective strategy of claiming you weren't opposed to electoral reform per se, just opposed to this STV version. That's some wonderful spin, especially with the clear knowledge in the back of your mind that a no vote now means no electoral reform anytime in the next 2 or 3 decades.

You're my hero. Schreck comes a close second.

I wonder, when a 65-yr-old Campbell wins his record 4th term in office in 2013 and voter turnout dips below the 45% mark, will you still be reveling in your No-STV triumph?

Bill Tieleman said...

My commitment to ensuring this is a free speech blog is being tested by sore losers who attack me personally behind the "Anonymous" postings here.

Let me say this - I have never engaged in personal attacks on the Yes STV side through the entire campaign, despite many attacks on me by STV proponents.

I suggest you get over it - stop being whining losers and stop suggesting wild conspiracy theories to explain the loss.

Look hard at what you did wrong.

The Yes STV side had 5,000 volunteers - NO STV had a handful.

Yes STV raised over $200,000 in extra funding. NO STV raised less than $20,000.

Yes STV had 10,000 lawn signs. NO STV had none.

And yet Yes STV lost badly.

Face it - STV was a bad idea. When British Columbians learned enough about it - they overwhelmingly voted no.

Move on.

Anonymous said...

Bill,

Your contribution to building a society based on plutacracy and oligarchy is greatly appreciated.

Concerned Citizen said...

Bill, obviously, we have no choice but to move on, but the debate over electoral reform, I hope, continues.

I agree with you on about 78% of the issues, but not this one. I think you were badly misguided by your old NDP loyalties and nostalgia for past NDP governments on this question. And history will ensure you, James et al will continue to die an excruciatingly slow death under this FPTP system. It's a different era with different issues than it was during the NDP's BCFL-fuelled glory days. The issues of peak oil and climate change have trumped many once sacred social and labour issues, for obvious reasons.

STV may have addressed these issues more effectively through electoral change - by allowing a more diverse politic in the Legislature, because god knows Carole James and the current NDP failed miserably at addressing these new realities.

For me, this is mostly a non-partisan issue. I simply view the status quo as the root of many of our political problems. You, Tieleman, obviously don't.

I'll let history resolve this debate.

Onward NDP soldiers, you won't hear another peep from me on this particular referendum - at least on this blog.

Anonymous said...

So now what?

Are we happy that the NO side won?

What was won? Do we have a fair, representative electoral system? Is it fair that 8-9% of the Green supporters get no seat at the table and needn't bother ever entertaining such a notion (or ever voting again)? Or conservatives? Or fascists? Or communists?

What was won was the chance that maybe... oh, ever-so maybe, the NDP might once again form a majority government.

It ain't gonna happen. The only time the NDP will ever be in a position to implement policy is if they form an NDP-Green coalition.

Coulda happened with STV. Now we get years of right-of-centre craps. Thanks Bill!

BC Mary said...

.
Bill,

Thanks for all your efforts in this election campaign.

Thanks for standing up for the things you believe in.

Thanks especially for supporting things which bring benefits to others in a democratic society.

Adversarial, partisan politics aren't democracy; they're a cruel joke played upon trusting citizens, in my view. That's abundantly clear from some of the nastiness displayed here today. It must make you wonder why you contribute a good part of your busy life to running a blog.

So thanks too for running an informative blog. Has anybody heard what happened in BC Supreme Court yesterday while 48% of us were sweating the election?

.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill:
We would have had one heck of a mess with STV, and no way out of it for 12 years.
None so blind as those that will not see.

Dirk Buchholz said...

You have to admit though Bill,this is a very hollow victory,no ?
After all when only 51% of people vote,this referendum "victory" is rather meaningless.

gman61 said...

Well, like I've been saying win or lose, this is a very passionate issue for everyone involved. I could go along with the character assassinations just as easily but there isn't much point. Here are two points I will make.

One - I have no need to hide behind any anonymity to give my opinion of one Bill Tieleman, so anytime you want to meet for coffee Bill is fine with me.

Two - The issue is not closed, it's just getting started. Every time another uninformed person becomes aware we get closer to democracy, the only issues are to what lengths the ruling class will go to hold on to their power and how long will it take us to wake people up so we can fight back together.

Two and a half months ago I was one of the sleeping, comfortable that 70-80% of people in this province would vote Yes, because they had time to get educated. I see now, how hard it is to inform them and how easy it is to confuse them but now FairVote BC has one more member and soon, so will FairVote Canada.

I see nothing but growth for this movement so it has only one logical conclusion. I hear talk of changes that need to exist.

"Some improvements in our system of government would be helpful. Maybe actually get a question or so answered in question period for a start.Accountable, open government doesn't exist in BC and it will be more of the same until the next time" - DPL (2nd comment)

Insanity is trying the same thing and expecting different results, and that is what we are being invited to do by not 61% but about 31% of the eligible voters. Again a false majority, do you really want to bring in mandatory voting, Bill ? That will only hasten the passing of the referendum vote next time.

dg said...

I see Bill, STV would have been too confusing for the peasants, but the BCRailgate scandal that you cover isn't. Riiiight.

We had a chance for change. It might have worked, perhaps not. Shouldn't we at least try? How can it get any worse than %50 turnout.

With all due respect Bill, using your rational for the STV we'd still be living in caves.

Anonymous said...

That wasn't an election and referendum. It was a Canwest Nuremberg Rally. The 99% who are not government officers of the court and connected corporate heads will pay for this elite-centrist victory.

Anonymous said...

Bill,

I only hope that if the issue of electoral reform arises in the future, at either federal or provincial level, you (and Schreck) will make good on your past promises to engage in a positive debate for positive electoral reform.

As for perceived personal attacks on your blog in reaction to this issue, you know the saying... you make a bed, be prepared to sleep in it. Truthfully, all I read so far is deep passion for the issue with a sprinkling of sarcasm and bitterness. Nothing wrong with that. It shows that unlike the 51% of eligible voters who don't give a shit, some of us are committed to issues, regardless of our often passionate disagreements.

I look forward to your non-STV work, the stuff you are far better at: intrepid reports on the BC Rail scandal.

BustaGrill said...

Bill,

You ran a dishonest, misleading, fear-mongering campaign. You played on the fears of voters, you stooped to the lowest common denominator.

"Move on.", you say.

I'll move on. I'll move on to making it a personal mission to see that spin doctors generally, and you personally, are discredited and marginalized and called to account whenever you spout your twisted, self-serving half-truths and innuendo.

I find rich irony in your warnings to avoid personal attacks on this blog so that you may maintain some "freedom of speech" here, when you so readily push the limits of truth and decency in your own journalism and political campaigning.

The cheap and negative campaigning that allowed you to win on STV is the same thing that cost the NDP this election, and gave us another 4 years of Gordon Campbell. So enjoy your great victory, but buckle up, Tieleman. You and your fellows in the old-guard NDP are in for a rough and disappointing ride over the coming term.

DPL said...

I hate to butt in again but the bit about NDP folksbeing happy about the no side. I saw Andrew Petter on a yes side article.A man for which I have a lot of resepect. Last time I looked he had been a NDP Cabinet Minister. Two of our friends are NDP and Yes side folks. They arn't complaining about a raw deal. Let's move on. Number wise, if 50 percent bothered to vote and 30 percent of those who votes, said Yes it seems the Yes side didn't do all that well. Sure hope the Yes side takes away the sign on the side of the road by our strata development. But it sure was an eye catching sign. I read somewhere else to day that the Yes side is going to keep lobbying for change. Go for it folks, but not on my dime. Lets move along

Anonymous said...

Bill,

Good work on presenting your case. Reasonable people can disagree, unreasonable people will just question your integrity, but remember this, you can never win a fight with a pig in that some mud is always going to stick to you if you enter the pen. Ignore the bitter insults, they are beneath contempt.

STV died a well deserved death, No STV made a good case with no cheap ad hominem attacks.

It is ironic that BC voters were presented with only one choice for electoral reform. Countries given only one choice for leader are not considered particularly democratic in the grand scheme things. And don't tell me that the Citizen's assembly was good enough to shortlist only one system. Who gave them that right? Let the entire electorate decide that by plebiscite, just like they choose between candidates, and more than one electoral reform choice would have been a minimum requirement.

If STV lost last time, how did it automagically inherit a second chance to the exclusion of all other possibilities? The process behind the uniselection of STV was flawed from the start and the bar was raised way too high for acceptance on the far end.
The framers of the process knew that, this was as designed. This was another well-architected and vainglorious diversion for the left.

Gordo played a brilliant rope a dope game and James and the Greens walked right into it.

1 ) Carol does a cheap shot no carbon tax and lost urban green votes with this stupid gamble ( Oak Bay would have had an NDP MLA easily ). If the NDP got half of the parked protest green votes, they would be in power today. 8 years to do that and they blew it. Thank you for playing Carol.

2) STV is a proxy fight between Greens and NDP. There is no socred / lib right wing split since they rebranded the right under one tent. See Gordo / Harpo, etc. There is lot more in common between the Greens / NDP than there are for the Fiberals. The vitriol is just so much more internecine warfare which benefits the divide and conquer crowd. Gordo does a green gamble and wins while Carol gets in a pissing context with Suzuki and Berman and loses. Nice.

Why not be given a choice of 3 systems? Too complicated you say? The real complication of STV is that it doesn't pass the Tim Horton's quick explanation test and it doesn't answer the local representation question. Haven't we had enough of Collateralized Debt Obligations and Credit Default Swaps? STV would have been another fractionally derived vote, a derivative. That's just another black box. See what the black box did to your RRSPs and for the Wall Street bonus sweepstakes.

As for participation, perceived fairness and simplicity directly correlate with higher youth participation.

I am all for one person one vote in proportion to the popular vote. We would see 46 libs, 42 NDPs and 12 Greens. Fine with me. Let everyone get along.

Brace yourself for the next 5 years under the Sheriff of Nottingham. It ain't going to be pretty after the 2010 hangover.

G West said...

Lets not be too hasty...I don't think for a moment Bill Tieleman spoke for anyone but himself in his Anti-STV crusade.

There are NDP members (and BC Liberals) who support STV and there are NDP members (and BC Liberals) who don't. This is equally true of other party affiations.

In the end this was NOT a partisan issue in the usual sense of the word and blaming Tieleman for the NDP loss (or the NDP for the STV loss) is just silly.

Keep on keeping on Bill, and don't take the ad hominem criticism to heart....I think your opposition to electoral change is kinda strange, mind you, but that’s because I’m sick of the mess that FPTP has delivered in regular doses all my adult life.

But because I tend to respect your integrity and your opinion, I’d like to hear you tell your readers what kind of electoral reform (apart from forcing people to vote) you really do believe in.

How about it?

A. G. Tsakumis said...

Bill, I was and am proud to be your colleague and friend, not just for the enormity of your work related to Basi-Virk, but certainly, too, for your principled support of fight against the corrupt and slanted YES STV proposition: BC-STV is pure political fraud--the ward system on cocaine.

As for your detractors, who have lied, bitched and whined their way through this post, I wish them a long warm summer in, well, how 'bout Quebec?

...so...from me to them...

FAAQ!

Rod Smelser said...

Bill

Your committment to keeping this a free-speech blog, in marked contrast to repulsive bucketshops like Rabble.ca/Babble, is commendable.

Unfortunately, as long as the majority of posters hide behind "anonymous" or other fake handles, we're not really seeing free speech but rather junk speech.

Newspapers will not publish a letter to the editor without a name, address and phone number. Yet there are all kinds of political blogs that allow people, including paid posters hired by parties or interest groups, to post all kinds of dishonest and manipulative garbage, all the while escaping any responsibility for what they're saying. It's abusive, and renders the Internet, like TV before it, a wasteland rather than a source of enlightenment.

Personally, I cannot help but suspect that this is what some people want, and again the babble example comes to mind.

EGC said...

STV is better that the current system. In several riding's in Vancouver, a majority did vote in favor. NDP's safest riding of Mount Pleaseant voted over 60% in favour of STV. Most of NDP support is in urban ridings. After reading many stories by Bill it seems he is more pro-NDP so it is odd why he is so critical of STV.
Voter turnout is very low due to the undemocratic system of voting for MLA. Why is that green party attract over 10% in the previous elections but never elected anyone? STV would allow them at least a few MLA, enough for a better multi party opposition in the legislature. STV is not perfect but might encourage more people to vote. In the current system, most votes are a wasted vote. Currently, the legislature does not the represent the majority of the population.

Jes Gőlbez said...

A few points

1. Yes, we appreciate Bill's free speech policy, especially when he's being attacked on his POV. Few media types are so accessible.

2. To the people complaining about what Bill puts on his blog ... it's his blog, and he can talk about whatever the hell he wants to: Tiddly Winks, Horseshoes, STV. He sure as hell doesn't tell you what carpet to put in your house.

3. Bill, maybe you can address the topic some more in the future. Not STV, per se, but electoral reform. Is there any hope that we'll have a chance, in our lifetime, to change from our archaic system?

michaelhey said...

Congratulations Mr. Tieleman

Now that STV is dead, I wonder if you will put as much energy into promoting MMPR as you did into destroying STV. If we do see proportional representation in British Columbia in the near future, then I will tip my hat to you for fighting for a system you believe in. Perhaps STV really is confusing to you. I have to respect that, even if I don't really understand it.

It seems to me though, that even the most hopeful scenario means that we will be stuck with the current garbage for another eight years. Eight years from now, will there be wild trees in BC? Will there be salmon in the Fraser? Will there be a single river that does not belong to some multi-national corporation, a bridge that has not been twinned, a highway that has not been quadrupled?

As someone who has cared about every issue, and who has never missed an election, I will rest peacefully in the knowledge that every ballot I have ever cast in my life has been 100% completely meaningless and my net contribution to the political process in Canada has been zero.

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal". - Emma Goldman

Let's launch the MMPR campaign today. We have four years to get it on the ballot.

Bill Tieleman said...

Michael Hey - as I suspect you may already know, I've never supported Mixed Member Proportional or any proportional representation system.

As President of NO STV my personal position is not important because our group only had one goal - to defeat STV. Many members of our group do support MMP and I respect that, while others support Proportional Representation List.

And some of our members support FPTP but believe it could be improved with legislative change. I am in that category.

I will say, as I have on a few occasions, that MMP is a much better system than STV if you want PR.

But it's now up to other or new groups to pursue electoral reform in BC - NO STV was never intended for that and will be disbanding after all our reports are filed and accepted by Elections BC.

G West said...

Bill, you're dodging and that's not like you.

Simple, straightforward question then: What do YOU propose as a method to reform what seems to many of your fellow citizens a significant democratic deficit in the current electoral system.

You've suggested compulsory voting and nothing, to my knowledge, other than that.

As much as you don't like STV - and you're entitled to that opinion - I don't think the genuine desire of its proponents to address the shortcomings of the current mess is debatable.

I think their motives are generally laudable.

On the other hand, your commitment to the current system seems, in the absence of any positive arguments on your behalf, somewhat harder to explain.

I think you do need to address that issue - not as a spokesperson for any movement - but as someone who appears to want to hang on to FPTP for dear life.

Anyway, I'd appreciate a fuller explanation and I suspect the absence of one is at least partly responsible for some of the animus you've stirred up.

Thanks.

nick said...

Neither Mr. Tieleman nor No-STV defeated STV. Indeed, he used time-honoured rhetorical tactics that all seasoned political campaigners do, nothing particularly innovative or original there. To say he defeated electoral reform in this province is giving him and his associates far too much credit.

It was rather, a choice of the people of British Columbia. Many chose not to vote, many did not believe that this was a special thing and was therefore worth exploring, some, I can say gave an earnest effort to understand it, and some even got it and did not agree with it.

Circumstantially, people hate coalitions even more than they hate one-party rule, and since the popular vote to seat ratio has only been marginally skewed these last two elections compared to the former two, they took what was familiar.

As tempting as it is to make Tieleman and Shreck the scapegoats of this setback, it just would not be honest to do so.

Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of wailing about the small voter turnout and voter apathy during this latest election.

Thank goodness the STV question was put on the ballot!

I'm of the opinion the voter turn out would have been one hell of a lot less without the STV question because it got voters like moi out to axe that goofball STV scheme.

Anonymous said...

The way that NOSTV helped to defeat BC-STV is akin to looking at a mosaic through a magnifying glass and criticizing the tiny images while ignoring the overall picture. They focused on tiny details while ignoring the big picture.

Worse, they appealed to the worst instincts in people - parochialism, fear of change, and most of all, xenophobia (STV is "odd" and "weird" so it must be bad).

So, when Bill is so generous with freedom of speech, he has good reason. NOSTV used freedom of speech to distort public discourse and eliminate any chance of a fair hearing for STV.

The STV process should never have been about winning and losing. It should have been about informing the public so that people could make sound decisions. And now, after millions of dollars spent and person-years wasted, most people still don't even understand proportional representation in general, much less BC-STV.

Thanks, Bill.

Anonymous said...

When the obituary for STV is written, it will be important to look back and carefully evaluate how the members of the Citizens Assembly (CA) actually came to their conclusions. Rick Dignard is the one person who seems to have realized and reported that the CA's actual operation was subject to gentle yet definite manipulation. Most other members refuse to acknowledge this fact, because of course they were immersed in it and would never admit that they were pushed in any one direction.

But from the outset there was a bias against the one system that would have passed in BC and that was Mixed Member Proportional Representation as practiced in New Zealand and Germany. This bias was enforced by the mandate for no new seats being created and the overwhelming feeling in the CA that political parties were an unnecessary evil and a democratic obstruction. It was further reinforced by Green Party leader and electoral reform advocate Adriane Carr's presence at the CA deliberations. Many saw her as an advocate and a partisan and resented her presence as an attempt to influence the outcome for MMPR.

The move by the CA to STV was predicated primarily by the deep distrust of political parties and the fact that once in power, parties not only broke their promises, but also ruled in a dictatorial manner. The strong governments produced by FPTP were correctly seen as a flaw in that system, because it allowed for unchecked and unbalanced power and the undue influence of those who supported a political party monetarily. The academics who tutored the CA favored STV. And somehow the obvious facts that STV had no effect on political party influence, did not help women or minority representation increase, and was used in but a few small countries with very different geography than BC never registered with CA members.

It should also be noted that Bill Tieleman is being quite honest about his position on electoral reform and he reflects the unstated position of the BC NDP. The NDP hierarchy, unlike the rank and file, has no interest in electoral reform, despite the fact that they might actually control government more often through coalitions with the Green Party. But this goes against what they perceive is their long term self interest. A third party, like the Greens, which is correctly perceived as on their left, is a threat to their existence and cannot be tolerated. It must be throttled and marginalized at all costs. One only has to look at what happened to Social Credit or even Progressive Conservatives to understand that titanic shifts can obliterate and replace political parties.

The BC NDP had a near death experience in 2001. And regardless of the fact that the 2001 election provided a strong rationale for electoral reform, it instead was viewed by NDP executives as a life and death struggle to remain relevant. With the core labor support, superior organization, and legacy of candidates and members, they were able claw their way back. This return employed a campaign of new greenwashing policies and emphasized the real fear that Green Party candidates were splitting the vote and putting BC Liberals back in office. It worked well enough that many NDP members who had defected in 2001, returned in 2005 and provided enough support to make the NDP a respectable opposition again.

Now in 2009, the NDP again allowed electoral reform to wither by refusing to support it and by allowing two of their most savvy communications operatives to spearhead the NO campaign. No one should be surprised. Despite defeat, NDP officials understand that time is on their side. All governments must fall sooner or later and the NDP will be back in power, full power. Being a respectable opposition with over 40% of the seats in the legislature still represents a position of considerable prestige and opportunity. And four more years will pass quickly enough. The immediacy of electoral reform, which was so strong after the elections of 1996 and 2001 is gone. The electoral system appears to work now. And the reform we could have had with a system such as MMPR has been lost, not forever, but for a long long time.

FreeYourVote

Bill Tieleman said...

Interesting points Anonymous-Free Your Vote and well worth debating.

But the idea that the NDP was "allowing two of their most savvy communications operatives to spearhead the NO campaign" is ludicrous!

Neither David Schreck nor I have any role with the NDP beyond critical supporters - watch for my column on Tuesday in that regard - and there were much more prominent NDP figures than us on the Yes to STV side - like Andrew Petter, David Cubberly and 7 current sitting NDP Members of Parliament.

NO STV received no funding from any labour group and minimal additional funding from private contributors - less than $20,000 I estimate - compared with the over $200,000 that the Yes to STV side raised nationally.

STV was a poor idea from the get go and that's why it failed once voters had a good chance to look at it.

I'm very pleased that NO STV was able to make a strong case with the support of individuals associated with the Greens, BC Liberals, Social Credit, BC Conservatives, Refederation Party and NDP.

Bill Tieleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well, I suppose "critical supporters" is one way to describe the role of Tieleman and Schreck. But from where most political observers sit, stalking horse might be more applicable. After all, the official NDP policy was the cagey and nuanced: "we support electoral reform, but are uncertain this is the right system"; an ever so typical political non answer. And why not allow some idealists in the party to show support, knowing full well that it would be a tough sell to actually pass. So why taint electoral chances by actively supporting what is most likely a losing issue? Allow the Green Party to carry that water, which they did, possibly to their detriment. It certainly did them no obvious good.

I certainly agree that STV was a flawed system. For most of us, it's demise was inevitable once more specific information about it became widely disseminated. After all, who can actually explain how votes are counted in ten words or less, unless you say "a computer does it". Despite the protestations of many electoral reform proponents, STV was a defective system that only an academic could love.

And let's be honest Bill, NO-STV had little need of extra funding or volunteers to simply show voters the size of their new riding and the problems this created. But my point is more specific and moves a bit beyond this issue.

The BC NDP does not want electoral reform because an emergent Green Party draws them down and calls them out on policy inconsistencies. In an age of deindustrialization and privatization, pressures on labor, especially unionized labor, continues to weaken a party whose core support and money is still heavily dependent on these sources. Environmental supporters are also important to the NDP, and the Green Party has stripped those away, and after 3 elections, it appears that these people (8% of voters) for the most part are not coming back. In critical ridings, this can mean the difference between forming government and being in perpetual opposition. In light of these weaknesses, it is untenable for the NDP give any quarter to the Greens. Better to work on convincing Green voters that their only "practical" choice is voting NDP.

So the NDP is now firmly back to where they have always been. The 2 party system works well for the BC NDP and electoral reform works against them. It is precisely this determination that drives the NDP executive and council to eschew electoral reform. Why change a system that is working. You chose not to address this issue in your reply. Dare you speak the truth?

FreeYourVote

Bill Tieleman said...

First - to Garth West - I've never dodged a question but I have given you a straightforward answer as to my position as president of NO STV.

My personal position is that I believe there can be significant improvements in how the BC Legislature operates without changing our electoral system.

I personally support FPTP, and I've been on the record on that for a long time.

To Free Your Vote - are you a Green Party supporter?

Let's get this on the record, even without you identifying yourself, because it helps everyone figure out this debate.

Secondly, if you think it's easy winning against an opponent with 50% more funding and an amazing number of volunteers, think again!

I wish we'd had an extra $200,000 plus to spend on advertising and other efforts!

Third, your conspiracy theory on NDP involvement is way off.

If the NDP wanted to "use" David Schreck and myself to act as a "stalking horse" on behalf of the party, why would 7 NDP MPs all support STV when they could face a federal election anytime?

And you presume - with some unintended humour - that Schreck and I follow orders from the NDP! I suggest you ask some of the NDP staff or leadership whether or not either of us has ever taken the slightest direction from them!

You might go back a check my extremely negative comments on the pay and pension fiasco, my opposition to the NDP position on the Tsawwassen Treaty and its sellout of agricultural land, etc, etc.

As above, I have always been clear on my personal position in favour of FPTP but have been respectful of the NO STV coalition in not making my views or anyone else's the issue. NO STV has supporters of Mixed Member Proportional and PR List, for example.

I don't agree with the official NDP position in favour of MMP and if the NDP proposes to implement it without a provincial referendum supporting MMP, I will oppose it wholeheartedly.

Sorry to disappoint you but I do dare to speak the truth - and sign my name to it, as I have for a very long time.

Do you?

Anonymous said...

If I insinuated you and Mr. Schreck were directed from NDP headquarters, that was not my intent. Maybe you should simply be called NDP "insiders". At any rate, as the photos on your website attest, you rub shoulders with the political elites and of course we all know you have worked closely with the NDP in various capacities and it is with them that your sympathies lie. So I am making the assumption that you share common ground with NDP decision makers. There is no need for conspiracy here.

My read on NDP decision makers is that they, like you, prefer First Past the Post. As I have pointed out, electoral reform does not work in their favor, at least as I view their actions. And actions speak much louder than mere planks in a political platform. So I have simply stated that despite your protestations to the contrary, you and Mr. Schreck are the tip of the spear that the NDP buried in the heart of electoral reform in BC. It did not necessarily kill the beast, but without real NDP support it was mortally wounded as it staggered to the cliff.

And I don't mean to credit you with the death of STV. It was a terribly flawed system that hopefully will go away and never show itself on our doorstep again. It didn't need a NO side to be defeated, it only needed some light. The fact that 7 NDP MP's supported STV simply demonstrates the dilemma of the NDP. At the provincial level they encourage strategic voting while at the federal level Jack Layton has to fight tooth and nail to discourage it.

But I would like to hear an honest statement from you of what the NDP Council and their financial backers say behind closed doors. You are in a position to provide this insight and get us all beyond the mere bickering and name calling that populates this discussion on your blog. I have no doubt that BC Liberal managers and supporters do not favor reform, but some rank and file NDP members might truly believe their party desires an electoral change. I am challenging that idea and am looking for you to help provide some insight, as difficult as that may be.

For the record, I do not support the 2 party system. Nor do 51% of BC voters it would seem.

FreeYourVote

G West said...

Curious. But thanks.

On the one hand you say this:
My personal position is that I believe there can be significant improvements in how the BC Legislature operates without changing our electoral system.Without actually providing ANY details apart from compulsory voting.

So I guess the next question, Bill, which was kind of implicit in the point I was making, is why. Why would you support FPTP given the kinds of governments, voter disengagement and poor, not to say, dysfunctional democratic representations it has afforded this country and this province?

Saying you support FPTP in all its threadbare 'glory' seems curious, to me at least.

As you know, I'm not fascinated with nor naive about STV...but I'm more skeptical still about the ability of FPTP - especially given the increasingly pervasive influence of centralized power and lobbying - to be fundamentally 'democratic' in any meaningful way either.

Hoping to hear more.

Alfred Hitchcock said...

All systems have weaknesses. In the hands of skilled communications experts, these weaknesses can be distorted and magnified to make it look like the system is hopeless.

Bill, you must have been chuckling to yourself through the whole campaign. MMP zealots and party list fanatics helped you kill STV. All the while, you knew that that the exact same arguments, slightly modified, could be used to defeat their systems as well.

When honesty doesn't count, a negative campaign isn't that hard.