Premier John Horgan speaks in the B.C. legislature, November 2017. (Hansard TV)

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.

BC legislatureProportional representation

Just Posted

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

Sooke RCMP seized cocaine, ketamine, MDMA, prescription pills, $6,000 cash, a machete and pepper spray during a bust June 15. (Courtesy of Sooke RCMP)
Sooke RCMP seize drugs, machete, pepper spray

Man arrested near Evergreen Mall following drug deal

An eastern cottontail rabbit on the UVic campus. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Wild rabbits persist at the University of Victoria

Feral rabbits are still absent, but another non-native species has arrived on campus

Staff will be reviewing public feedback from second-stage designs for cycling infrastructure in James Bay, part of the City of Victoria’s 32-kilometre network. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria sends James Bay bike lanes choice to next phase

Design modifications based on community input to be delivered to council this summer

Alex Fiset and Cooper Oakes, both Grade 4, running to the finish, raising money for the ALS Society of B.C. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
John Muir students rally for ALS support

‘Hey ALS. Nobody likes you!’ the students yelled

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Himalayan Life helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people. (Screen grab/Peter Schaeublin)
B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

6 years after a catastrophic earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal gets hit again

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read