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.

Just Posted

“Does Kirby care?” Heiltsuk Nation using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

“No excuse” for killing of two young grizzly cubs

Reader hopeful someone will come forward with information

UPDATE: U.S. firm fined $2.9M for fuel spill that soiled B.C. First Nation territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

No delivery services hard on local families

New parents Candace Knudsen and Bjorn Samuelsen spent five weeks away from home

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Most Read