AMS VP External and President Interviews

January 30, 2009

We sat down with the Vice President External and the Presidential candidates to make sure they understood BC-STV, then discussed this issue with them and send them an interview via email.  Here are their responses:

Vice President External Candidates:

Tim Chu

Briefly, do you feel electoral reform (locally, provincially, federally) is an important issue? If so, why do you feel it is important?

Firstly, the functioning of a democracy is highly dependent on the voter turnout rates as a democracy is at its prime when all members are participating. Our voter turnout, I believe, is also dependent on the electoral system we use. A typical response we hear from people who do not vote is something along the lines of “I am not going to vote because my one vote won’t count or make a difference.” Well, our current electoral system does not necessarily make every vote count. Our electoral system emphasizes on candidates capturing a plurality of votes as opposed to a majority of votes and so candidates can be elected even if the majority of voters are against it. Seeing how not every vote counts, a disconnection is created between the voters and the importance of them actually voting. Hence, electoral reform is extremely important because I believe our democracy is at stake if we do not reform our electoral system.

In a sentence or two, what is your understanding of BC-STV? (This is mainly to make sure you aren’t mistaking BC-STV for another system)

BC-Single Transferable Vote is where we have multi-member electoral districts and voters with similar preferences are inherently grouped together so most voters actually get a representative that is reflective of their views. BC-STV also uses preferential balloting so you are able to rank candidates based on your preference as opposed to being forced to choose just one candidate. Ballots are also weighted and transferable to your other preferences after having your top preference elected.

Do you personally support BC-STV, and would you support an AMS endorsement of BC-STV?

I support electoral systems that are truly reflective of the voter preferences and I personally feel that BC-STV does a good job in reflecting these preferences.

I would definitely support an AMS endorsement of BC-STV because it’s a viable alternative from our current first-past-the-post electoral system which has so many problems. As we know, student voter turnout is dismal and I believe the AMS has an obligation to increase student voter turnout. By having BC-STV, I feel student voter turnout would increase because every single vote counts and has an impact and students would recognize that their vote actually counts. Furthermore, the AMS’ recent move away from the first-past-the-post system for the Executive elections is a testament that the AMS recognizes the problems of FPTP. And so, if we recognize the flaws and limitations internally, we have a responsibility to lobby for provincial change and the AMS should endorse BC-STV.

As VP-External, what would you do to raise awareness and knowledge about BC-STV prior to the referendum?

AS VP-External, I would launch awareness campaigns towards students prior to the BC-STV referendum and the May provincial election and inform students about the problems of our current electoral system. A typical campaign would consist of rave cards, posters, promotion on the AMS website and buttons. Furthermore, as VP-External, I am planning on putting together a campaign team that would raise awareness and knowledge of the AMS lobbying priorities; I would treat electoral reform as a campaign issue just as I would treat transit, UBC governance and tuition fee levels as campaign issues during elections.

What would you do to increase student voter turnout?

As VP-External, I would work towards increasing student voter turnout firstly by creating a registry of students who can vote in the election and secondly by putting together a campaign team for the election. Such as how political parties have campaign teams, I plan on having an AMS campaign team that would knock on doors of students living in residences reminding them to vote and the campaign team would also be able to contact, with the help of the student registry, by phone at-large students as well. Furthermore, as VP-External, I want to let students know that these elections actually concern them greatly because it is their tuition fee level, their representation in government and the transit system that is at stake.

If the AMS endorses BC-STV and you are VP-External, what would you do to help make sure BC-STV passes?

If the AMS endorses BC-STV and I am elected as VP-External, I would not only raise awareness and knowledge of BC-STV among the student population, but I would also carry our issue outside the realm of UBC students to other student associations and other organizations who would be sympathetic and support the issue of BC-STV. I understand that the AMS is one of the largest student organizations in Canada but in order to gain momentum and more political clout over issues we care about, we need to work with other student associations and organizations.

Iggy Rodriguez

Iggy has not (yet) responded to our interview questions by email, however when we met with him in person and while he supports some more representative voting systems, he seemed fairly neutral on BC-STV specifically, though he was gung-ho about making sure students were aware of the issue and using it to increase student voter turnout in the 2009 provincial election.  He would respect an AMS endorsement, but was again fairly neutral as to whether the AMS should endorse BC-STV.

Update: Well it looks like  he created a group on Facebook called “No to STV”!  So it looks like he’s so against this proposed way to improve our democracy that he’s willing to defeat it and risk waiting a generation for another chance at reform.  Once again, our advice is to vote for Tim Chu.   FairVoteUBC would like an unequivocal statement from the Iggy Rodriguez campaign about his stance on STV and his plans for dealing with it if he were elected.  Its hard to image someone running a “No” Facebook group not trying to disuade the AMS council from a “Yes” endorsement.

You can be sure that if FairVoteUBC obtains VFM vote money (don’t forget to choose us while you’re voting), we will use it to the best of our abilities to keep you informed on this issue and lobby the AMS for full support of the “Yes” side of the referendum.  If Iggy is elected VP-external, it looks like that may be a harder job than we thought.

President Candidates:

Blake Frederick

Briefly, do you feel electoral reform (locally, provincially, federally) is an important issue? If so, why do you feel it is important?

Yes, I am and have been an advocate for electoral reform. Our outdated single member plurality voting system does not do a good job of reflecting the will of the voters. A system that allows a candidate who received 35% of the vote to represent 100% of their constituents cannot properly be called democratic.

In a sentence or two, what is your understanding of BC-STV? (This is mainly to make sure you aren’t mistaking BC-STV for another system)

Voters within each district elect multiple MLAs by ranking candidates on the ballot. If a candidate receives more votes than he or she needs to be elected or not enough votes to be elected, these ‘wasted’ votes are partially transfered to other candidates based on voter preferences.

Do you personally support BC-STV?


Do you support an AMS endorsement of BC-STV?


If the AMS endorses BC-STV and you are the President, what would you do to help make sure BC-STV passes?

BC-STV is more likely to produce more cooperative governments. This benefits everyone in the province, including students. As part of the provincial lobbying campaign, I would like to see the AMS use media and advertising resources to encourage students to vote in favour of BC-STV.

Paul Korczyk

Briefly, do you feel electoral reform (locally, provincially, federally) is an important issue? If so, why do you feel it is important?

I think electoral reform is a tremendously important issue, especially now. The last few elections, both on the federal and provincial levels, have shown that FPP is inadequate, and does not produce results representative of the voters. After the Citizens’ Assembly put in so much time and resources to find an alternative that would work in our system, we HAVE found that alternative. The time is now to make sure BC-STV passes the referendum, because after failing a second time, its future could be in doubt and that would be a shame. I want to see BC be a pioneer of North American electoral reform.

In a sentence or two, what is your understanding of BC-STV? (This is mainly to make sure you aren’t mistaking BC-STV for another system)
Well, we went over it in detail in our in-person interview, so I’ll be brief. Each constituency elects multiple candidates to office. Voters rank their preferences on a ballot. Ballots of elected candidates get transferred to other candidates until the required amount of candidates are elected. It results in elections that are representative of what voters vote for. Every vote counts, no votes are wasted. It empowers voters, smaller parties, and independents, while making sure the bigger parties and elected officials are constantly accountable to their constituents.

Do you personally support BC-STV?
Not only do I support BC-STV, I have already publicly advocated for it before the 2005 election. I realized then how important it was, and how much of a better system it was, and nothing has changed.  I was extremely disappointed that the last referendum was so close, and want nothing more than for it to pass this year. I fully understand how important it is that the referendum passes this year, and personally, I will advocate for it just as strongly as I did four years ago. Electoral reform is something I’m passionate about, as I hope you’ve noticed, and hopefully that will spread through those I come in contact with. Even if I’m not elected President, I’m still going to use every means at my disposal to make sure people are aware, informed, and hopefully making the right decision. Of course, I would be able to make a greater impact as President, but should that not happen, I would like to work with your group/club to promote it, if you need an extra hand.

Do you support an AMS endorsement of BC-STV?
If there is a motion by council to endorse BC-STV, I will be the first to vote yes. I will also strongly argue in favour of it at any council meeting in which the topic comes up. I would love for council to support it, but I would make sure that we would not only support it, but make sure students know what they’re voting for, and communicate that accordingly, in as simple a way as possible, to make sure we counter the ‘NO’ side that will undoubtedly use the “it’s complicated and will confuse voters” argument.

If the AMS endorses BC-STV and you are the President, what would you do to help make sure BC-STV passes?
I realize that the bulk of the work would fall under the role of the VP External, and as such, I would do everything in my power to support the VP External in pursuing this. However, I also realize that my position as President would allow me to personally put myself out there endorsing BC-STV. With media appearances, as you mentioned in our interview, I could reach a wider audience beyond UBC. Again, it’s something I’m passionate about, and that would show, which would help the good word spread through the campus, and hopefully the province. To echo what I said before, I want UBC to be the first domino that will spread electoral reform throughout the provinces, and the federal level as well.

Alex Monegro

Alex has not yet responded to our email interview questions, however we talked with him in person.  His background is in commerce, so he understands how difficult it can be for businesses to make investment decisions when you have huge policy swings between the left and right every eight years or so.  However, he is an international student and understandably isn’t particularly passionate about electoral reform in BC in particular, but rather would want the AMS to play a supportive role (with staff and money) behind BC-STV supporters such as ourselves.  He sees BC-STV as one of many worthwhile initiatives (not of special importance as we do).


4 Responses to “AMS VP External and President Interviews”

  1. Wayne Smith Says:

    What kind of voting system is used for AMS elections?

    Is that being reformed too?

  2. wbrucek Says:

    Hi Wayne,

    It’s Condorcet (so it uses a preferential ballot, but is used to elect only one candidate).


  3. […] that we have a supportive AMS executive that will help raise awareness among the UBC community. Both Blake and Tim support an AMS endorsement of BC-STV, and we hope that the AMS will take a leading role in promoting BC-STV in the coming months. […]

  4. Hainybano Says:

    I am always searching for brand-new articles in the WWW about this theme. Thanx!!

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