Skip to main content

The Debate on Proportional Representation

This fall, B.C. will choose whether to keep our current first-past-the-post electoral system, or change to a system of proportional representation. Here is the breakdown for each system

First past the post [Current Electoral System in Canada]

One MLS per electoral district. MLA's are elected by getting the most votes in their district. Whichever candidate garners the most votes wins. The number of seats a party gets in the legislature equals the number of districts its candidates win.

Pros: It’s easy to understand and simple to implement. Provides local representation and a unified legislature.
Cons: Winners don’t need an absolute majority, just more votes than anyone else. Candidates often win with fewer than 50 percent of votes. The majority of a constituency may not vote for the eventual winner, and winning parties rarely win a majority of votes nationally. Does not always represent in the legislature the percentage of actual voters in the riding so voters issues get ignored in favor of the ruling party. Tends to be most beneficial to the leading party

Proportional Representation 

A system in which the number of seats held by members of a political party in a legislature (such as a parliament) is determined by the number of votes its candidates receive in an election. Internationally, proportional representation is the most common type of electoral system with 89 of the 195 countries using it.

Pros: Allows small parties a greater likelihood of winning seats, with more diversity for voters preferences being addressed in parliament. May allow for greater consensus via cooperation among parties.
Cons: Though rare, it may allow a foothold for extremist parties. Since seats are filled from a party list, voters may have no geographic connection to their representatives. Can create a government comprising many small parties where consensus is difficult to achieve.

Check out 2018 Referendum Website

Read the voter's guide [Pdf]

We gathered information to assist you in making an informed decision this next election. Understanding the three choices:


 Dual Member [Watch Video]

(DMP) is an electoral system designed to produce proportional election results across a region by electing two representatives in each of the region's districts. Voters vote for a party or an independent.

Voting stays the same in the largest rural electoral districts.

Voters pick two candidates, a primary and a secondary candidate.

The primary candidate is chosen by a majority vote and wins the first seat.

The second candidate is determined by province-wide results distributed proportionately to total votes cast in the election.

The overall votes received translates into the number of seats that the party is owed.

Mixed Member [Watch Video]

(MMP), are district MLAs, elected by getting the most votes and additional regional MLAs elected from a party list.

Voters cast a ballot both for a local candidate and for a party. Voters have a single MP who represents their riding, while other seats are distributed proportionately to total votes cast in the election.

MPs are elected to represent ridings but the party votes are used to top up representation in the legislature so it is proportional to each party's overall support.

Rural-Urban [Watch Video]

Combines two different proportional voting systems:

If you live in a Rural area, you will use Mixed Member Proportional.

If you live in a city or a suburb you will use Urban - Single Transferable Vote.

Multiple candidates are elected from a single riding. Voters rank candidates in order of preference and can rank as many of the candidates they want.

The overall majority vote determines who would get elected. Anyone getting a minimum number of votes would get a seat and their votes over that quota would be transferred to the next candidate in their party.

Listen to what two opponents debating the reform have to say below [AM 1150 with Phil Johnson]


With Proportional Representation, there's more confusion than clarity. The system for calculating winners is so complex that a confusing algorithm chooses MLAs for us. How can we rely on something like this? Answer : We can't! The PR illusion - Does every vote count? Not at all! Your vote will be lost in the confusion. This fall, keep our electoral process simple, stable and successful.  Read More from Vote No to Proportional Representation

Bill Tieleman

Founder and Director - Voter No to PRO REP

NO to Proportional Representation [Segment 1]

NO to Proportional Representation [Segment 2]

NO to Proportional Representation [Segment 3]


An electoral system for all. Proportional representation (PR) is a democratic principle specifying that people should be represented in proportion to how they voted. This means the percentage of seats a party has in the legislature should reflect the percentage of people who voted for that party. Read More from Fair Vote Canada

Maria Dobrinskay

BC Director - Broadbent Institute in British Columbia

YES to Proportional Representation [Segment 1]

YES to Proportional Representation [Segment 2]

YES to Proportional Representation [Segment 3]

Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada

Beginning in 2001, the Law Commission of Canada conducted extended research and a multifaceted public consultation and engagement strategy to gather the insights and opinions of a broad cross section of Canadians on electoral system reform. This Report reflects many of the opinions and ideas that were expressed through this consultation process. See the report


Looking for Electoral Statistics? Find out more information here