We've examined the claims and arguments being made on all sides of the debate. Where possible, we use peer-reviewed political science research to evaluate these arguments.

Click on a claim in this list to jump to our analysis!

Under First Past the Post, Parties that get 40% of the vote get 100% of the power.

Quote: “It isn’t fair that a government that gets 40% of the votes should get 100% of the power.”

Analysis: It is true that parties can and do form majority governments with 40% of the total popular support. More than half of the majority governments in Canadian history (provincial and federal) have been formed by parties receiving less than 45% of the popular vote.  In BC in 1996, for example, the NDP won a majority government with 39.4% of the vote. This was the case also in recent elections with the Trudeau Liberals in 2015 (39.47%), the NDP in Alberta (40.57%), and the Coalition Avenir Quebec in 2018 (37.4%). These governments can often pass bills quickly and can implements big programs and reforms with little consultation with opposition parties.

On the other hand, the term ‘100% of the power’ doesn't tell the whole story. While majority governments have the voting power to pass legislation without the support of opposition parties, it is disingenuous to imply they have no power. Opposition parties play a key role in keeping governments in check using parliamentary debate, legislative procedural delays, using the media, and petition making. We have seen the effectiveness of these tactics in the current federal government where the Liberals have backed down on a number of key policies including a small business tax reform and House of Commons standing order reforms. 

Rating: Mostly True 

PR protects against corruption.

Quote: “A pro rep system . . .  protects against vested interests having undue influence.” - Amandeep Singh, Human and Civil Rights Lawyer

Note: We assume that “vested interest having undue influence” here means corruption.

Analysis: The majority of the top 20 countries with the lowest perceived corruption use PR systems, though a good chunk also use non-PR systems. However, PR is not necessarily corruption-free. For example, Brazil has an open-list PR system, but still has a considerable corruption problem. Preferential list PR tends to produce high levels of intraparty competition, and experts argue that this format has a tendency to produce high levels of political corruption due to the demand for campaign resources this system generates. However, new literature on corruption claims that closed list PR systems have the greatest tendency to produce high levels of corruption due to its elections’ weaker ability to discipline bad politicians (punishment votes that voters may cast against a bad politician will necessarily be diffused across the entire party list). But the NDP government has pledged that it will not use closed lists for any of the PR systems if they are chosen in the referendum (https://vancouversun.com/news/politics/b-c-premier-to-veto-closed-list-version-of-mixed-member-pro-rep)

Rating: Mostly true


Gingerich, D. W. (2009). Ballot Structure, Political Corruption, and the Performance of Proportional Representation. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 21(4), 509–541.


PR lets us vote sincerely rather than strategically.

Quote: “Pro rep liberates us all to vote our true values; to vote for what we really want rather than against who we most fear or dislike.” - Seth Klein, BC Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Analysis:  One study found that strategic voting patterns in both FPTP and PR bear striking similarities. In every election, smaller parties lose votes to larger parties. Strategic voting is actually more common under PR than FPTP because there tends to be more smaller parties in PR systems. One other study shows that, despite PR systems being often said to promote sincere voting, if voters have incomplete information, then this may not be true. In Andalusia, Spain, it was found that, in a PR system, only around 0.75% behaved strategically in national elections. However, it climbed up to around 9% in districts with voters who had the opportunity to vote strategically. But in a experimental study, it was shown that voting for the preferred party increases as the district magnitude -- the number of candidates elected in a district -- increases. So in the proposed PR systems in BC, there may be less strategic voting in the RUP system (in urban areas) than under MMP and DMP (2 member districts), and even less than in FPTP. 

Rating: Inconclusive


Abramson, P. R., Aldrich, J. H., Blais, A., Diamond, M., Diskin, A., Indridason, I. H., … Levine, R. (2010). Comparing Strategic Voting Under FPTP and PR. Comparative Political Studies, 43(1), 61–90.

Hix, Simon; Hortala-Vallve, Rafael; Riambau-Armet, Guillem, The Effects of District Magnitude on Voting Behavior 

The Journal of Politics, 79(1)

Lago, I. (2012). Strategic voting in proportional representation systems: Evidence from a natural experiment. Party Politics, 18(5), 653–665.

Troumpounis, O., & Xefteris, D. (2016). Incomplete information, proportional representation and strategic voting. Social Choice and Welfare, 47(4), 879-903.

PR leads to better environmental outcomes.

Quote: “Around the world, Pro Rep leads to better environmental outcomes.” - Hannah Askew, Executive Director of Sierra Club BC

Analysis: Countries that use PR systems have, on average, stricter environmental policies, compared to majoritarian systems (such as FPTP). Fredriksson and Milimet used cross-sectional data from 86 democratic countries and found that under PR systems, governments set stricter environmental policies, compared to majoritarian systems (such as FPTP) (2004). A review of the literature featuring mostly OECD countries and the effects regulatory policies have on their environmental performance, finding that those policies have almost certainly improved environmental performance (Press, 2007).   

Rating: Mostly True


Fredriksson, P. G., & Millimet, D. L. (2004). Electoral rules and environmental policy. Economics Letters, 84(2), 237-244.

Press, D. (2007). Industry, environmental policy, and environmental outcomes. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 32(1), 317-344.

PR systems have higher turnout than FPTP systems.

Quote: “I support Pro Rep because it more fairly represents voter views and makes democracy more engaging and successful. In an era where corporate financial interests are dominating public policy, where voter participation is weak and cynicism prevails, we need ways to inspire democracy and civic responsibility. Pro rep opens the door for more people to step up and get involved.” - Joel Solomon, Social entrepreneur and investor."

Analysis: PR electoral systems increase voter turnout. In a review of the literature, Aaarts and Blais conclude that "Research dealing with contemporary western democracies has consistently shown that turnout is substantially higher under PR, under larger district magnitude, and under more proportional systems in general." However, multiparty systems (a common result of PR systems) decrease turnout. This may be due to greater uncertainty about the possible future government. However, the presence of pre-electoral coalitions can increase turnout by reducing uncertainty. 

Rating: Mostly True


Tillman, E. R. (2015). Pre-electoral coalitions and voter turnout. Party Politics, 21(5), 726–737. 

Bowler, S., Brockington, D., & Donovan, T. (2001). Election Systems and Voter Turnout: Experiments in the United States. The Journal of Politics, 63(3), 902-915.

Blais, A., & Aarts, K. (2006). Electoral systems and turnout. Acta Politica, 41(2), 180-196. 

Policy decisions made under a PR system are made behind closed doors.

Quote: “In a real democracy, voters decide on policy. With Proportional Representation, it’s done behind closed doors.” (noprorep.ca)

Analysis: The procedure for approving policy will not change if BC switches to a PR-based electoral system. As it stands, all legislative debates regarding public policy are fully disclosed to the public. This is an essential part of the legislative process, and it will never be conducted ‘behind closed doors’, regardless of our electoral system.However, what ends up on the legislative agenda may be subject to closed door deals. Compared to our current electoral system, PR systems increase the likelihood of coalition governments. In a coalition government, no single party controls a majority of the legislature. As a result, governments must be formed through agreements between parties, often referred to as ‘coalitions’ or ‘confidence and supply agreements, which are indeed conducted ‘behind closed doors’, although sometimes the parties release a formal text of these agreements, as is the case currently between the NDP and Green Party in BC. Parties privy to these agreements act as a single voting block, passing or rejecting legislation as a majority.

Rating: False

​​Sources: Blais, André, and Marc André Bodet. "Does proportional representation foster closer congruence between citizens and policy makers?." Comparative Political Studies 39, no. 10 (2006): 1243-1262.

PR privileges high-density (urban) areas at the expense of low-density (rural) areas.

Quote: “[PR] will move the entire power base of the government to where the population is.” *This is found on the homepage of https://nobcprorep.ca/ under the blue-coloured “The Unfair Solution” section.


  1. DMP

In DMP, electoral districts will continue to be used. Rural (less densely-populated) electoral districts will remain the same with one MLA in each. Urban (more densely-populated) electoral districts will be combined with another neighboring district with two MLAs in each of those districts. Since all current districts have about the same number of constituents, therefore it is proportional that if two are combined, the number of MLAs per district doubles to two. Rural populations will still have the same representation as urban populations. However, we are still not certain if this will be the case, as it is unknown how electoral districts will be combined.

  1. MMP

In MMP, electoral districts will continue to be used. All electoral districts will be larger than current districts with one district MLA in each of those districts. However, it is unknown whether each of the new districts will contain the same number of old districts. Regional MLAs represent an unspecified number of districts, which make up a single region. The number of regional MLAs per region is also unspecified, so it is also unknown whether each of these regions contain the same number of regional MLAs. If each rural district has a lower MLA-to-constituent ratio (see below) compared with urban districts, then this claim can be true, but no details have been given on how the new electoral districts will be drawn.

  1. RUP

In RUP, electoral districts will continue to be used. MMP will be used for rural districts. Rural districts will be larger than current districts with one district MLA in each of those districts, and multiple regional MLAs for each region. STV will be used for urban districts. Urban districts will be larger than current districts with multiple MLAs in each district. It is unknown how many MLAs will be elected per district, and how many old districts will be combined to form new districts. Once again, without more detailed information on how new district boundaries are formed, this claim cannot be proven true nor false.

Current FPTP Electoral Boundary Division Legislation:

It is not yet determined how the electoral districts will be re-drawn if the electoral system is changed to a PR system. However, we can look into how the districts are divided in the current FPTP system and determine how well it represents the rural population. In section 9 of the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, it stipulates that “with respect to the Cariboo-Thompson Region, the Columbia-Kootenay Region and the North Region [...] each of these regions must not have the number of their electoral districts reduced from the number of electoral districts that currently exist for the region.” These regions consist of the 17 electoral districts in the northern and rural regions of British Columbia, as listed in section 9. Using data from the 2011 Census, we can analyze how well these regions are being represented in the provincial legislature compared to the urban districts. The total population of BC was 4400060 at the time, and the average number of people per each of the 87 districts is 50575. The average number of people per each of the 17 rural districts is 35807, which is lower than the province-wide average. The average number of people per each of the other 70 urban districts is 54162, which is higher than the province-wide average. This means that currently, each rural district has a higher MLA-to-constituent ratio than each of the urban districts (1:35807 for rural compared with 1:54162 for urban), since each district is represented by a single MLA. Each constituent in the rural districts therefore have more representation in the provincial legislature compared with the constituents in the urban district. Whether this will change if electoral boundaries are redrawn is unknown, as it is dependent on whether the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act will be amended.

Rating: Unsupported (unknown until election boundaries are redrawn in the case of changing to PR)


Elections BC, 2018, 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform - Voter's Guide, https://elections.bc.ca/docs/referendum/2018-Referendum-on-Electoral-Reform-Voters-Guide.pdf

Queen's Printer for British Columbia, 1996, Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96107_01#section9

Elections BC, 2018, 2017 Provincial General Election – Wall Map of Electoral Districts,


Elections BC, 2011, 2017 Provincial General Election electoral districts, https://elections.bc.ca/docs/map/2011CensusProfiles_87EDs.xlsx (data from 2011 Census)

Larger ridings as a result of Proportional Representation will result in less local representation.

Quote: “With Proportional Representation, bigger ridings will diminish your access to your MLA.” (noprorep.ca)

Analysis:  Riding sizes will increase with all three proposed proportional representation systems. However, the number of MLAs in each district will also increase in most cases.

In the case that DMP is chosen, neighbouring districts would be combined, becoming roughly double their current size. To match this new size, districts under would have two MLA’s, and both would share representation of the district together. Rural ridings would remain a similar size and be represented by one MLA, similar to the current FPTP system.

Choosing MMP would result in larger and fewer electoral ridings (regional districts) with multiple MLAs representing the entire area. Although there would be several smaller districts within those regional districts, all would share one MLA who is tied to a local area. This results in each constituent having multiple MLAs; one MLA representing their smaller local district and others representing the region as a whole. Roughly 60% of the MLAs would be district and the rest would be regional MLAs. Under MMP the ridings will grow in size, but there would still be direct local representation with the system.

The rural ridings under the RUP system would use MMP, and the urban districts would use STV to count votes. These districts will grow between 2-5 times in size. The number of MLAs per region will be decided after the referendum but would be anywhere between 2-7 per district, although it is more likely to lean towards a higher amount of MLAs.

In sum, riding sizes will increase if proportional representation is chosen, and there would also be an increase in the number of MLAs per district. The overall number of MLAs in BC may  grow if PR is chosen. New boundaries for districts would not be decided until after the referendum takes place, and an independent Electoral Boundaries Commission would provide recommendations on new electoral boundaries for all proposed systems. Given this, PR will allow for proportionality in the number of MLAs, as the proposed systems all have mechanisms of adding “top-up” seats to accommodate local levels as well as regional.



Mira Bernstein et al.(2018). Recommendations on Election Reform in British Columbia. Government of British Columbia.


Robin Annschild et al. (2018). How We Vote 2018 Electoral Reform Referendum.Government of British Columbia.


Unknown Author. (2018). Dual Member Proportional (DMP). Elections BC.


Unknown Author. (2018). Front page. No Proportional Representation BC. https://nobcprorep.ca/

Unknown Author. (2018). Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). Elections BC.


Unknown Author. (2018). Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP). Elections BC.


Rating: Mostly False

​​Sources: Blais, André, and Marc André Bodet. "Does proportional representation foster closer congruence between citizens and policy makers?." Comparative Political Studies 39, no. 10 (2006): 1243-1262.

PR allows more people to get involved in the electoral process.

Analysis: There is evidence showing that turnout increases, that more attention is paid to smaller races, that parties have a greater incentive to campaign more and that there is the introduction of new candidates that are not from the realm of politics. The evidence is however mixed on how much PR improves the number of people who get involved with politics. Turnout appears to not increase too significantly and as political parties would need to adapt to this new system is is hard to know how much they will initially increase interest in politics and if they will respond to PR similarly to how political parties have in other countries (by becoming less catch-all and more focused).  

RatingMostly True


Eggers, Andrew C. “Proportionality and Turnout: Evidence From French Municipalities.” Comparative Political Studies, vol. 48, no. 2, 2015, pp. 135–167., doi:10.1177/0010414014534199. (https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/full/10.1177/0010414014534199?utm_source=summon&utm_medium=discovery-provider)

Karp, Jeffrey A., and Susan A. Banducci. “Political Efficacy and Participation in Twenty-Seven Democracies: How Electoral Systems Shape Political Behaviour.” British Journal of Political Science, vol. 38, no. 2, 2008, pp. 311–334. JSTOR.


PR leads to a fairer representation of minorities in government.

Quote: “I am a strong supporter of Pro Rep because it leads to a fairer representation of . . . marginalized people in government.” - Jo-Ann Roberts, Retired Journalist, Deputy Leader of Green Party of Canada

Analysis:  Evidence is mixed. In both theory and data, there is evidence that PR improves minority representation, if the size of the minority is big enough. However, there are many factors that may affect representation of minorities in the government. Alonso and Ruiz-Rufino (2007) suggest that proportionality does not necessarily lead to higher levels of representation of minority ethnic parties; and that higher levels of representation in parliament do not automatically lead to a moderation of ethnic conflict. For example, after implementing PR in 1996, New Zealand’s visible minority MPs jumped from 6.5% to 12.5%. Now, just Maori alone consist 24.2% of the parliament, comparing  14.9% of general population. Even if we were to exclude the 7 treaty seats that are dedicated to Maori Candidates, Maori MPs make up 18.8% of the Parliament and are over-represented in the New Zealand Parliament.

Rating: Mixed


Negri, M. (2018). Preferential votes and minority representation in open list proportional representation systems. Social Choice & Welfare, 50(2), 281–303.

Kartal, M. (2015). Laboratory elections with endogenous turnout: Proportional representation versus majoritarian rule. Experimental Economics, 18(3), 366-384.

Moser, R. G. (2008). Electoral Systems and the Representation of Ethnic Minorities: Evidence from Russia. Comparative Politics, 40(3), 273–292.

Protsyk, O., & Sachariew, K. (2012). Recruitment and Representation of Ethnic Minorities under Proportional Representation: Evidence from Bulgaria. East European Politics and Societies, 26(2), 313–339.

Alonso, S. and Ruiz-Rufino, R. (2007), Political representation and ethnic conflict in new 

democracies. European Journal of Political Research, 46: 237-267. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6765.2007.00693.x



BC will likely have MLAs from extremist parties under PR.

Quotes: “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.”

“Proportional Representation will allow extremist parties to have a say.”

“Using PR would result in a fractured parliament populated by a multitude of smaller parties, some which may possess extreme views.”

“Extremists are elected to legislatures with a tiny percentage of votes.”

Analysis: Proportional representation allows for more diverse representation because the system is designed to reflect the percentage of votes a party receives in the number of seats they are awarded in the legislature. This can allow for smaller parties, that may or may not have extreme views, to be elected to the legislature, depending on the percentage of the popular vote they recieve. 

Both DMP and MMP have a 5% threshold. This means that if a party receives less than 5% of the provincial wide vote, they are automatically eliminated and cannot be elected to the legislature. Therefore, in these two systems, parties with more extreme views will not be elected to the legislature unless they have over 5% of the province wide vote.

Single Transferable Vote (STV) is used in urban areas under the RUP system and does not have a 5% threshold, but uses a quota that candidates must reach to be elected. This quota can go through many rounds of counting. The candidate with the lowest amount of votes is eliminated at the end of the first round and their votes are distributed to other candidates based on the voters second choice. This eliminates the least popular candidate. Again, if extremist parties have enough support they may gain seats in the legislature. How many seats will be dependent on their popularity.

 Dow (2011) explains how PR does support a legislature with a wider range of ideologies, including perhaps parties with extremist views if they have passed the threshold of more than 5% of votes under the MMP and DMP systems, as well as if candidates with extremist views meet the quota required to get elected under STV. Arzheimer and Carter (2006) agree with Dow’s argument that extremists parties could be elected under PR if they attain a certain threshold of votes and continue to attract more votes. They acknowledge how PR could increase the incentives for new or small parties, including extremist ones, to enter the electoral race compared to less proportional systems like First-Past-the-Post, where new parties are reluctant to field candidates and voters are discouraged from supporting them since they are less likely to gain representation.  But Ezrow (2008) argues that there is little evidence to suggest that electoral laws, specifically the proportionality of the electoral system, exert an effect on parties' tendencies to propose extreme as opposed to moderate policy positions. Furthermore, the analyses implies that more proportional electoral systems may actually motivate greater policy moderation by political parties and by governments. 




Eggers, Andrew C. “Proportionality and Turnout: Evidence From French Municipalities.” Comparative Political Studies, vol. 48, no. 2, 2015, pp. 135–167., doi:10.1177/0010414014534199. (https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/full/10.1177/0010414014534199?utm_source=summon&utm_medium=discovery-provider)

Karp, Jeffrey A., and Susan A. Banducci. “Political Efficacy and Participation in Twenty-Seven Democracies: How Electoral Systems Shape Political Behaviour.” British Journal of Political Science, vol. 38, no. 2, 2008, pp. 311–334. JSTOR.


Under PR, candidates are selected by and accountable to their political party.

Quote: “When you vote for a political party you are giving over your authority to that political party to appoint people to the legislature. Those people then become accountable to the political party, but they are no longer accountable to citizens.”

Analysis:  Under the 'closed list' forms of Proportional Representation (PR), a political party provides ranked lists of candidates so that when a party is awarded regional top-up seats, those candidates fill those seats. The voter always has access to know who these people are beforehand, just like under First-past-the-post (FPTP) where the parties provide a single candidate. Distributing seats to parties produces party representation, whereas allocating seats to people produces personal representation. Depending on the type of PR, there can be be both personal and party representation. 

Under Mixed Member Proportional Representation, an open party list can be used to choose a portion of the MLAs, known as ‘regional MLAs’. Premier Horgan released a statement that closed lists will not be used under any system. An open list system is one where the electorate shares their preference for their party, as well as their preference for one or more candidates on their party’s list. A vote for a certain candidate determines the order in which they will be elected by a party, thereby moving voters’ preferred candidate(s) up the party list. This is a form of personal representation.

Under Dual Member Proportional, Candidates are assigned as Candidate 1 and Candidate 2. The order the of the candidates could be determined by party insiders, making it easier for some candidates to get elected and harder for others, but this is the same under FPTP where the party leader can appoint a candidate or nullify a constituency association's nomination. DMP combined elements of both personal and party representation. Party representation is used if the order of the candidates is decided by party insiders. However, when voters vote for Candidate 1 and 2, this is a form of personal representation.

Rural-Urban Proportional would see the urban portion of the ridings operate under Single Transferable Vote, which let voters to rank their preferred candidates, therefore giving voters more autonomy on choosing their own MLAs. This is a form of personal representation.

Although for the most part other than RUP, PR does let political parties decide your MLA, it is worth mentioning that parties handpick your MLA under First Past The Post as well. Your MLA in your riding is selected by the party they represent; either by a vote of the constituency association or direct intervention by the party leader. That process is necessary to ensure that there is only one candidate from each party competing in each riding. It’s unclear due to the fact that it is one of the conditions which will be determined by a legislative committee after the referendum.



Mira Bernstein et al.(2018). Recommendations on Election Reform in British Columbia. Government of British Columbia.


Robin Annschild et al. (2018). How We Vote 2018 Electoral Reform Referendum.Government of British Columbia.


Rating: Mixed

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