Vote No: Don't choose change simply for the sake of change: Opinion

In advance of the referendum on electoral reform, CBC has asked the two registered campaigns for their pitch to voters. Here is John Barrett from No What To Vote's take.

The referendum is the most important decision Islanders will face on voting day, says John Barrett

Your vote in the referendum on electoral reform is an important choice that will shape the future of the Island, says John Barrett of No What To Vote. (CBC)

When voters head to the polls in P.E.I. on April 23, they will also be able to vote in a referendum on electoral reform. The two options are to vote "no" to keep the current first-past-the-post system, or to vote "yes" to move to a mixed member proportional representation system.

In advance of that vote, CBC has asked the two registered campaigns on both sides of the votes for their pitch to voters. Here is John Barrett from No What To Vote's take.

During this era of fluctuating global economies, increasing trade disputes, border obsession and overall voter dissatisfaction, there has become an overwhelming level of frustration that has resulted in both a lack of trust and a movement towards voting-in-protest.

While many electorates have adopted the "change" perspective when going to the polls, we have clearly witnessed the disruption and instability that such protest votes have caused.

During and immediately following the Brexit vote in the UK, the outcome was a shocking surprise to many who voted, including those who exercised their franchise by voting for change.

Once the ramifications of leaving the European Union were fully unveiled, many of those who contributed to the slim majority seeking change were calling for another vote as they had not fully understood what this change would mean for the country's economy and future as a leading world nation.

The most important decision ahead

Countries seeking electoral reform such as Iceland, Belgium, Sweden, Israel and others have now found themselves in difficult, if not impossible, situations as their residents voted for change based on discontent rather than understanding the ramifications of what could (and did), lie ahead.

Coupled with our next provincial election we will be given the opportunity to either preserve the traditional first-past-the-post system of elections or adopt a dramatic change to the manner in which we elect those representing us in the provincial legislature.

No What To Vote wants you to choose 'no' on the referendum ballot. (Submitted by John Barrett)

While we all hold a keen interest in who may form the next provincial government, the outcome of the referendum vote is actually a far, far more important decision that Islanders will have to make.

A change to MMP will drastically change the manner in which our electoral system will be shaped for decades to come.

Understand the facts, ignore the fiction

It is vital that the electorate of Prince Edward Island study this referendum issue carefully and thoughtfully so as to fully understand the ramifications of what a mixed member proportional representation system could bring to our province.

Our 100,000 eligible voters need to make every effort to understand the facts, ignore the fiction behind emotionally based commentary and consider whether their frustration with the way things are now, is worth the risk of irreparable harm that could result in voting for change, simply for the sake of change.

The future of our democratic system as we know it, a system that has served us well since Confederation, is at risk and our collective responsibility of making wise, well-informed decisions has never been more important than now.

Vote no

Don't be distracted by facts and figures from far-away countries where MMP has been adopted in national parliaments many, many times the size of our tiny legislature.

Understand that there are absolutely no provisions to guarantee a greater representation by women and minorities under an MMP system despite what some party leaders would want you to believe.

If it's change that you desire, seek change with your first ballot when voting for your district MLA.

If it's stability and a proven democratic system you desire, vote no on April 23.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

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About the Author

John Barrett is with the No What To Vote organization. They have campaigned to maintain the first-past-the-post electoral system and oppose the implementation of mixed member proportional representation.


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