Charlottetown — Prince Edward Island will receive a second chance to vote the right way in regards to electoral reform after incorrectly voting for mixed-member proportional representation.
Canada’s potato province recently held a plebiscite that gave Islanders the chance to vote between keeping the current first-past-the-post election system or changing to allow some degree of proportional representation.
In an exclusive interview with The Manatee, the head of the plebiscite, John Arsenault, from up west (not down east), discussed exactly why the $500,000 opinion poll was a success. After the obligatory greeting of “who’s yer father?” Arsenault said now that Islanders know why their opinion is wrong, they can vote for the correct answer, which is of course, first-past-the-post.
“We’re a little disappointed in Islanders right now but we’re willing to give them another chance at getting it right,” said Arsenault. “The government thought Islanders would understand the current system is the correct one but we’ve explained to them that they need to vote our way, so I’m confident the next plebiscite will be a binding one, unless of course they vote wrong again.”
When asked to address the concerns that the government deliberately made the plebiscite difficult to understand by including multiple versions of proportional representation without adequately explaining them, Arsenault was adamant that all the information required to make an informed decision was available.
“We spent a lot of time talking about how 16- and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote and how this online vote was a first for Canada. You’d think Islanders would just do the work themselves and figure it out, right?”
Spending half of a million dollars on a plebiscite that did not produce the result the government was looking for is not a waste of taxpayer money, says Arsenault.
“We’ll spend $10 million if that’s what it takes. Until Islanders realize their opinion is wrong, we’ll keep pumping out the plebiscites until they get it right. Islanders elected us to do the thinking for them, which was a smart vote — why can’t they vote smart again?”
The real concern for the government, according to Arsenault, is the 36 percent voter turnout.
“We’re fine if 36 percent of the people want to vote, but it was the wrong 36 percent. This is a democracy and to me that doesn’t mean go with the majority vote, it means go with the right vote, which is first-past-the-post.”
The next plebiscite, also predicted to cost $500,000, is scheduled for January with tentative plebiscites scheduled on the first of every month until first-past-the-post wins a majority.
In unrelated news, the current Liberal government has warned that Pat Binns’ Conservative regime, holding power from 1996-2007, continues to hurt the province. Apparently Binns misappropriated funds to such a degree that there is no money in the budget to provide additional funding to education or health care.
Arsenault is just thankful there is enough money to spend on plebiscites.
“Plebiscites are really the most efficient way to tell Islanders they’re wrong.”