John Horgan is sworn in as B.C.’s new premier along with the NDP cabinet at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

B.C. VIEWS: John Horgan on election reform

NDP joins Greens in bid for proportional representation

Black Press legislative columnist Tom Fletcher sat down with Premier John Horgan to talk about his plans for 2018. Video of the interview is below, with a transcript of the premier’s comments on the pending referendum on electoral reform.

TF: You’re going to have a referendum on our voting system next year. You’ve said there is going to be a clear two-part question, do voters want to change or don’t they, and the second part is still being worked out. Is that accurate?

JH: That’s pretty close to what I expect will come back from the consultation. I think it’s important that we ask the public if they want to change from what we’ve got now, and once that’s established then what are the alternatives.

This will be the third referendum on these questions in a little under 15 years, so I don’t think we have too many more opportunities to put this to the public. So we want to make sure we get it right.

TF: This was a hot topic in the legislature, suggestions that it’s being arranged for your political advantage, or the B.C. Green Party’s political advantage. Can you respond to that?

JH: It certainly is not my intention to stack the deck in any way. This is something I’ve become increasingly passionate about. I voted against electoral reform in 2005 because I was uncomfortable. I understood the first-past-the-post system. It’s what I grew up with.

But after spending four years as an opposition member, having no influence at all in government, effectively shutting out my constituents from having a say, I changed my view, and felt that we needed to find a better way to reflect the diversity in our communities.

In my mind, it’s not about the NDP, the Greens, the Liberals, the Conservatives, it’s about people electing a representative. What we’ve got now is the first minority parliament in 50 years, and we have to work together, and put aside our partisan issues to the greatest extent possible.

I’ve been trying to do that, but you’ve been covering this place for a long time. It’s a partisan place. And we’re trying to dial that down, but sometimes it rears its ugly head. And I think that as we go forward with the referendum and the question, I’m going to be as transparent as possible, making sure this is about how people elect someone, not how we elect more of one or the other.

TF: You’ve said there will be protection for sparsely populated rural regions. How might that work?

JH: We’re going to have to come to a conclusion on that. I’ve heard clearly from rural MLAs in both the B.C. Liberal and NDP caucuses that their constituents are concerned they will somehow lose their ability to affect change within a sea of residents in southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

We have to remember that our current system, if it were challenged in court, might be thrown out anyway. There is supposed to be only a 25-per-cent deviation between the smallest constituency and the largest. We have more than half a dozen that have very few constituents than you would have in Vancouver or Richmond or Surrey. So we have to find a balance regardless of whether it’s proportional representation or first past the post. But I absolutely hear the voices of people in rural B.C. that they don’t want to be left out of the political process.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fort Street bike lanes officially open in Victoria

Latest stretch of bike network a designated two-way, protected downtown lane for all abilities

Fundraising campaign set up for teen involved in Malahat crash

Kayla-Marie Gibson, 19, is the breadwinner of the family, says GoFundMe campaign

National paddleboard races continue today in Sidney

Races on today until 2pm; distance, prone and relay events on tap

Intruder breaks into Langford couple’s home

The intruder was high and thought the house was his

Visiting Vimy Ridge: Saanich teen set for historic summer tour

Mount Douglas student John Evans will tour historic war sites

VIDEO: 75th Swiftsure International Yacht Race

‘A happy boat is a fast boat’

B.C. to spend $181M to create 200 general practitioner jobs

Jobs will go to new medical school graduates

Federal leaders trade barbs about India trip at press gallery dinner

Justin Trudeau’s infamous trip to India earlier this year was the focus of many of the jabs

B.C. VIEWS: Our poverty reduction plan is already in place

NDP has another promise it needs to appear to keep

WestJet pilot strike averted as parties agree to mediation

Pilots had warned they could go on strike starting May 19

Most Read