Premier John Horgan and B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson debate in Vancouver Wednesday. (CBC)

John Horgan, Andrew Wilkinson square off on B.C. voting referendum

Proportional representation turnout less than 3% as leaders debate

Premier John Horgan and B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson went head to head in a TV debate Thursday evening, trying to sway voters to their side with less than three weeks left for them to cast their mail-in ballots.

Horgan supports the proportional representation option, while Wilkinson wants to keep the existing first-past-the-post system. But two weeks into the voting period, the runaway leader is none of the above, with fewer than three per cent of the more than three million ballots filled out and returned.

The debate in the B.C. legislature has been bitter, and centred mainly around the process used by the NDP and B.C. Green Party to push this referendum through without the independent consultation that preceded B.C.’s previous two in 2005 and 2009.

With only a half hour to make their cases, Wilkinson and Horgan stayed with their familiar themes. “Let’s get modern, let’s get hip,” Horgan said, emphasizing the traditional first-past-the-post system’s history of giving a majority to parties who did not get more than half the votes.

Wilkinson hammered the point that many ballots are being “thrown in the trash” because people haven’t had the time or information to assess the options. He repeatedly asked Horgan how the new systems would work in detail, such as how many MLAs the province will end up with.

RELATED: NDP ministers defend proportional representation vote

RELATED: What you need to know about voting in B.C. referendum

Horgan defended the process that will leave many details, including the size and shape of proportional representation constituencies, to be decided after the vote. He said an independent commission will draw the new seat boundaries if more than half of voters choose proportional representation.

Wilkinson pointed out repeatedly that two of the three new options have never been used anywhere in the world, and said political interference by the NDP and B.C. Green parties will continue after the ballots are counted.

Completed referendum packages must be received at Elections B.C. by Friday, Nov. 30 at 4:30 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman said experience with other mail-in referendums suggests that counting will take three to four weeks, depending on the final turnout. That would put the announcement of results close to Christmas.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sushi, sake and silk kimono

“The Kimono of Ichimaru” opening night at Fernie Museum attracts sellout crowd

Mexico-bound Tour Divide riders complete first day, pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody, 6 months since release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

New society to spearhead ramp building project in Fernie

Gracie Lou Foundation launches to make Fernie more inclusive; ramp building event slated for June 22

GALLERY: Week-long Coal Miner Days a huge success

Skate jam set to become a permanent fixture of Coal Miner Days; other events well attended

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Elk Valley Bulls RFC reclaim Kootenay Cup

Elk Valley beats Cranbrook 7-5 to win Kootenay Cup; team off to provincials in September

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read