Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok attacks the NDP-Green plan for a referendum to change B.C.’s voting system, Nov. 23, 2017. (Hansard TV)

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok attacks the NDP-Green plan for a referendum to change B.C.’s voting system, Nov. 23, 2017. (Hansard TV)

B.C. NDP referendum plan sparks legislature battle

David Eby says public will decide on proportional referendum

As B.C. Attorney General David Eby launched a public consultation on changing B.C.’s voting system, opposition MLAs were ramping up their attack on what they call a “backroom deal” to take away rural representation and favour the B.C. Green Party.

The consultation is to decide on the question to be put to a province-wide referendum next fall on changing the electoral system. B.C. Liberal MLAs have focused on the NDP government’s decision to make the vote a simple majority, which they say would erode rural representation and have the decision made by Lower Mainland voters.

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver initially wanted to impose proportional representation without a referendum, but then agreed to a mail-in vote as part of his deal to support the NDP minority government. That trade-off included the NDP agreeing to offer more than one alternative to the winner-take-all voting system that B.C. has used for most of its history.

In the legislature Thursday, Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok led off debate with a blistering attack on the plan, accusing Premier John Horgan of breaking his promise to give voters a simple choice between two voting systems.

Clovechok joined other critics in listing the effects of proportional representation in other countries, with unstable governments such as the just-collapsed coalition in Germany and the rise of far-right parties in Europe. They argue that B.C.’s current minority government would become the norm under proportional representation.

“Again, the small Green tail continues to wag the bloated orange dog,” Clovechok said. “Voters who choose first-past-the-post as their first choice will have to choose between multiple proportional representation systems for their second and third choices. If their first-past-the-post doesn’t win on the first ballot, then victory is unlikely.”

Eby said he will not take part in government’s decision on how to shape the referendum, but he noted that the B.C. government could go ahead and change the system without a referendum.

“There’s no obligation on government to do this,” Eby said. “In fact there’s no legal obligation on government to hold a vote at all. The Constitution Act can be amended without this process.”

Until midnight Feb. 28, 2018, British Columbians can visit the consultation website engage.gov.bc.ca/HowWeVote to give feedback on the referendum question. Eby said as options for the vote are developed, they will be added to the website.

B.C. Liberal critic Andrew Wilkinson said the website survey is “massively biased in favour of proportional representation.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureElectoral reform

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Most Read