Premier John Horgan speaks in the B.C. legislature, November 2017. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Premier John Horgan vows clear referendum question

B.C. legislature adjourns after NDP-Greens pass electoral reform bill

Voters in next fall’s referendum on changing B.C.’s voting system will have a clear two-part question to answer, Premier John Horgan said Thursday.

As the NDP-Green alliance prepared to approve legislation requiring a 50-per-cent-plus-one majority to switch to proportional representation for the next B.C. election, Horgan rejected B.C. Liberal suggestions that the mail-in ballot could be skewed in favour of changing the system to benefit smaller parties.

The referendum question is still to be decided by the NDP cabinet after public consultations, but Horgan said it will be in two parts. The first part will ask whether voters want to move away from the current system, where the candidate with the largest number of votes wins each of B.C.’s 87 seats.

If a voter says yes to that, the second part would set out one or more options, such as the single transferable vote that was defeated in two B.C. referenda in 2005 and 2008. Another possible option, used in Europe, is a mixed member proportional system where seats are allocated based on each party’s share of the popular vote.

Horgan defended the plan by Attorney General David Eby to become a neutral arbiter of the choice of question. Both the B.C. NDP and Greens campaigned on moving to proportional representation, arguing it will produce a system that closer reflects voter intentions.

B.C. Liberal attorney general critic Andrew Wilkinson has been a fierce critic of the NDP-Green plan, describing the referendum as “rigged” to get approval for the change in a vote that could be decided entirely by Metro Vancouver. Wilkinson, a candidate to replace Christy Clark as B.C. Liberal leader, said the opposition needs to run its own campaign to warn people about the loss of rural representation that would occur if the referendum passes.

B.C. Liberal motions to provide a weighted system that needs approval in a majority in all regions, to require a minimum return of mail-in ballots for a valid result, and to make it a yes-or-no question were all defeated by the NDP and Green MLAs Thursday.

The NDP and Green parties have committed to campaign for a yes vote in the referendum, to be held by fall of 2018. They have yet to decide whether public funding will go to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ organizations.

A website has been set up at engage.gov.bc.ca/howwevote/ to provide information about different voting systems and offer a questionnaire. It will also accept written submissions until Feb. 28, and a Green-NDP task force will travel the province to encourage people to take part.

BC legislatureProportional representation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

Nelson hospice starts Walk and Talk group in Lakeside Park

The Walk and Talk Grief Group is offered free to anyone grieving the death of a loved one

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

‘It’s really frustrating’: B.C. Indigenous groups share impact of border closures

The closures have resulted in disputes between Indigenous groups and local businesses

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

New comet appears in pre-dawn sky above Cranbrook

Neowise can be seen without a telescope over the next couple of weeks

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Most Read