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

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.

BC legislatureProportional representation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 exposure at The Key, weather shelter announced in Fort St. James

Northern Health made the public service announcement Dec. 1

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Pipe stringing work in Section 4. (Coastal GasLink photo/Lakes District News)
Pipe installation begins from south of Burns Lake to north of Vanderhoof

Coastal Gas Link’s November update indicates 528 additional workers

Vanderhoof Community Foundation logo.
Donate in your loved one’s name this Giving Tuesday: Vanderhoof Community Foundation

Today, Dec. 1 is celebrated as Giving Tuesday, a global movement for… Continue reading

Annerose Georgeson in the process of painting a mural at the Stuart Nechako Manor in July. While she was working on the mural, a nurse and a senior living at the Manor were enjoying the live painting. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof artist completes mural at the Manor

A Vanderhoof artist has finished her mural at a local long-term care… Continue reading

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

Most Read