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

Victoria seniors want to know more about marijuana

Four presentations on the medical properties of cannabis for seniors come to Victoria

Rickter Scale: California Dreaming with Steve Shutt

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column in the Goldstream News Gazette

Victoria gears up to axe free parking on Sundays

Council vote puts Sunday parking fees towards bus passes for youth

Oak Bay one step closer to deer immunocontraceptive test

Up to 80 deer could be given ‘birth control’ vaccine in the fall

Black Press readers share photos of their favourite critters on #LoveYourPetDay

Greater Victoria is raining cats and dogs…and snails and goats

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Nanaimo edges Royal Bay by one point to win Vancouver Island AAA girls basketball title

Nanaimo District Secondary School wins first AAA girls’ Island title in 29 years

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

Most Read