Long-time NDP supporter Bill Tieleman and former B.C. Liberal attorney general Suzanne Anton celebrate a win for the official No Proportional Representation campaign, which they co-chaired. (Twitter)

Long-time NDP supporter Bill Tieleman and former B.C. Liberal attorney general Suzanne Anton celebrate a win for the official No Proportional Representation campaign, which they co-chaired. (Twitter)

Election reform debate ‘finished’ in B.C., backers admit

Referendum rejection most decisive in rural regions

Rejected by more than 70 per cent in Fraser Valley and B.C. Interior seats, rising to more than 80 per cent in the Peace region, proportional representation is dead in B.C. for the foreseeable future, opponents and backers agree.

The scattering of constituencies that reached a majority in favour of the NDP government’s options were mostly in Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island, with Premier John Horgan’s home turf barely exceeding the 50 per cent approval required under rules set by the government and the B.C. Green Party

“Electoral reform is finished,” said Deputy Premier Carole James, speaking for the NDP government with Horgan out of the country on vacation by the time official results were released Thursday.

RELATED: B.C. voters reject proportional representation in third referendum

RELATED: Proportional representation means more B.C. parties, coalitions

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who predicted last year that a move to proportional representation meant there would never be another B.C. Liberal government, downplayed his ardent support for changing the voting system when he spoke to reporters after the vote results.

Weaver rejected suggestions that the B.C. Greens remain relegated to “fringe party” status by the loss of proportional representation, which would have given the three-seat Greens as many as a dozen MLAs based on their 2017 result, 17 per cent of the popular vote spread thinly across most of B.C.

“We are not here playing House of Cards politics to try to get power,” Weaver said.

The B.C. Conservative Party, another likely beneficiary of proportional representation, also put a brave face on the result. The B.C. Liberals have dominated provincial politics by holding a coalition of federal Conservatives and Liberals together to compete against the NDP.

“The B.C. Conservatives will continue to be the only choice for British Columbians who can no longer take the tax and spend ways of the three major parties,” said Justin Greenwood, interim deputy leader of the B.C. Conservatives.

An Angus Reid exit poll released Friday found that rejection of proportional representation was closely aligned with regions that had supported the B.C. Liberals in the past. One of the highest was in Richmond, where support for the traditional first-past-the-post system ran to more than 70 per cent.

Leaders of the official No campaign were an unlikely team, former B.C. Liberal attorney general Suzanne Anton and Bill Tieleman, a long-time NDP supporter who led the referendum campaign against the harmonized sales tax in 2011.

This week’s result was the third referendum in modern times, after a single transferable vote (STV) system gained majority support in 2005, but failed narrowly under rules calling for 60 per cent support province-wide with majority support in every region.

A second STV referendum in 2009 was rejected by a similar margin to the 2018 result.

In its official information for voters, Elections B.C. described the proportional representation options as leading to more parties and more coalition governments.


@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

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Caleb Wykes, Jade Daniel and Alicia Dennis celebrate Australia Day at the Fernie Hotel and Pub. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Fernie Hotel celebrates the land down under

Sausages sizzled and Vegemite was spread as The Fernie Hotel celebrated Australia Day on Jan. 26.

Teck today announced the development of a new centralized office building in Sparwood, B.C. File photo
What’s in a brand? Sparwood logo turns 10

The five-point star and branding has adorned the district’s properties since 2011

A Half-moon hairstreak butterfly. (Image courtesy of Calgary Zoo)
Parks Canada, Calgary Zoo work to conserve butterflies in Waterton Lakes

Parks Canada will contribute $289,000 over three years for the project

Freshies barista, Craig Stoner at the new cafe location. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Freshies settles into new space

The new locatiom on 2nd Ave gives the popular cafe more space

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
B.C. teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)

Most Read