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UVic's Pilon to NoSTV's Schreck: Stop misquoting me

The debate over changing B.C.’s electoral system running on The Tyee has kicked up another debate of sorts.

Did NO-STV spokesperson David Schreck purposefully misrepresent a University of Victoria academic?

“He’s taking things I said out of context,” political science professor and BC-STV proponent Dennis Pilon told The Tyee. “He’s trying to use things I said like they’re supporting things he said.”

The fracas stems out of a CKNW debate between Schreck and Pilon broadcast last month. Schreck has often made reference to Pilon’s radio comments in an ongoing Tyee series about BC-STV.

Pilon is upset because he supports voting reform, and claims Schreck referenced his comments to buoy the campaign against it. Pilon took particular fault with this passage from Round 1 of the Tyee series:

In a debate on CKNW, STV supporter and political science professor Dennis Pilon said: "If you go to Ireland and you ask them, do you understand how the vote count works, they'll tell you 'no.'" Pilon then declined to explain the count to the audience!

How votes are counted in single transferable vote (STV) system is a source of confusion to many people. Read a brief explanation here.

Pilon said his comments were part of a larger discussion about Ireland’s experience with an STV system, which the Irish voted twice to support.

Pilon also takes fault with an exchange from Round 2 where Schreck quotes the academic as saying “most people vote party with STV.”

Pilon argues this line was taken from a larger discussion about voting patterns under any system, and Schreck shouldn’t have cherry picked information to support his position.

“I stand by every word I said and I refer people to the CKNW audio archive to listen for themselves to the debate,” Schreck said, when contacted by The Tyee.

He accused Pilon himself of being disingenuous. Ireland did vote for STV twice. But that was 50 years ago. Many people now have misgivings about the system there, he said.

“So far from quoting him out of context, I could have made a stronger case that the Irish are going a different direction from what he alleges,” Schreck said.

Sound complicated? You’re not alone.

Geoff Dembicki reports for The Tyee.

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