Decisions should be made in parliament

My own personal opinion is that government by referendum, if not just plain foolish, is at best misguided.

Re: “Referendum a must before election reform”, (Citizen, Oct. 21)

My own personal opinion is that government by referendum, if not just plain foolish, is at best misguided. A close examination of some recent referendums would, I believe, show that referendums are not a good choice for making serious decisions.

One — the HST referendum in British Columbia.

The HST was rejected, I believe, not because the HST per se was bad but because many voters were angry with our then-premier.

Two — the recent British referendum, known as Brexit, led to a bare majority of the British voting to leave the EU. The growing consensus amongst observers of this vote was that many voters did not fully understand what was involved and secondly many voters were just plain angry with current government policies, not necessarily anything to do with the EU.

Some say that if the referendum was held again the British would resoundingly vote to stay in the EU. However, it would appear that they are now stuck with a really bad choice.

Three — the recent referendum in Colombia, to end more than 20 years of civil war, was rejected by the narrowest of margins, 50.2 per cent. It would appear that civil war may well continue in Colombia. Unbelievable.

Four — we had a vote on building a new swimming pool here in the Cowichan a few years ago. I would suggest that if we the voters had been fully informed by our elected officials, the vote would have been negative. Which hits at the nub of one of the problems of referendums, a fully informed and responsible electorate.

A second major problem is the silly idea that the referendum should be decided by 50 per cent plus one vote (of the people that vote).

I suggest that on a serious issue the margin needs to be say 60 per cent, or even 66.6 per cent.

Referendums that bind us financially for 20 years (for example) and are decided by, say, 51 per cent of the vote could mean that an energetic, committed minority can push through an expensive and not necessarily popular project. For example, say only 70 per cent of the public vote on a new swimming pool and the vote is 51 per cent for and 49 per cent against, then only 35.7 per cent of the total population have voted in favour, but of course 100 per cent pay the bill.

We hold elections in Canada and create new parliaments from time to time.

The members of parliament that we elect are accountable to us, the electorate. It is a system that has been in place in Canada and in Great Britain for centuries and has stood the test of time. Parliament is where serious decisions should be made.


Rob Robinson


Just Posted

A new laundromat is opening in the Peters Centre in Lake Cowichan. (file photo)
Peters Centre getting all cleaned up

Laundromat being developed at the Neva Road site

Robert's column
Robert Barron column: Skyrocketing house prices a tragedy

North Cowichan councillor Rosalie Sawrie brought an interesting perspective to a discussion… Continue reading

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read