Premier John Horgan and B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson debate proportional representation, Nov. 8, 2018. (Youtube)

B.C. referendum rejects proportional representation

Voters support first-past-the-post by 61.3 per cent

The B.C. government’s options for proportional representation have been rejected by voters in a mail-in referendum.

Just over 61 per cent of participating voters opted to stay with the first-past-the-post system, Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman reported Thursday.

The referendum offered a choice between the traditional first-past-the-post voting system, essentially a separate election for each of B.C.’s 87 provincial seats, and three variations on proportional representation to make the number of seats match more closely with the party’s share of the province-wide vote.

Of the three proportional representation options, mixed member proportional was supported by 41.24 per cent of those who chose to answer question two on the mail-in ballot. Dual member proportional and rural-urban proportional each received just under 30 per cent.

The referendum cost about $15 million to stage, with more than four million ballot packages mailed out to registered voters. The final turnout was 42.6 per cent ballots returned.

Opposition critics blasted the NDP for giving Attorney General David Eby the task of developing the options, rather than a citizens’ assembly as was the case with referenda in 2005 and 2009 that offered a single transferable ballot system and were defeated.

This referendum also differed from earlier ones by having no minimum turnout and no regional weighting to ensure that urban areas in the southwest didn’t decide the issue.

“This was a flawed process from the beginning as the NDP stacked the deck to satisfy the Green Party and remain in power,” B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said.

Premier John Horgan issued a statement, and left response up to Finance Minister Carole James.

“While many people, myself included, are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the people’s decision,” Horgan said.

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver echoed Horgan’s disappointment.

“The B.C. Greens remain committed to the principle of representative democracy,” Weaver said.

Horgan promoted B.C.’s electoral reform options as a way to improve voter participation. In a year-end interview with Black Press, Horgan said the referendum turnout of just over 40 per cent is a valid response to a proposal to change the system for at least the next two provincial elections.

“Democracy is about showing up,” Horgan said. “I’m pleased that we got 41-42 per cent voter turnout for a mid-term mail-in referendum.”

Weaver wanted the province to legislate a change without a referendum. Wilkinson has attacked the referendum, saying it was concocted for political purposes by the NDP government and leaves too many questions unanswered until after the result.

“I campaigned to have a referendum,” Horgan said. “My Green colleagues preferred to just implement proportional representation. I wasn’t prepared to do that, and I have every confidence in the wisdom of B.C. voters and will live by the decision that they send us.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureProportional representation

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

Just Posted

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.

Student athletes recognized for outstanding seasons

Fernie Secondary School students got their awards in a drive by ceremony last week

The Elk Valley celebrates Canada Day

Creative socially distant Canada Day festivities were held in both Fernie and Sparwood this week

Vintage vehicles, costumed drivers cruise Fernie streets

Wheels in the Valley hosted their first ever Rally in the Valley event this past Saturday

Food conditioned black bear destroyed in Elk Valley

The bear was destroyed by the Conservation Officer Service on June 28

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read