B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and justice critic Michael Lee have led the opposition attack on the referendum on the voting system set for this fall. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and justice critic Michael Lee have led the opposition attack on the referendum on the voting system set for this fall. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

UPDATE: John Horgan may debate voting system changes

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson wants to go one-on-one

Premier John Horgan isn’t ruling out a broadcast debate with B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson on proposed changes to B.C.’s voting system, but says if it happens it would be after municipal elections on Oct. 20.

Asked about the debate challenge in Vancouver Wednesday, Horgan noted that the B.C. legislature resumes sitting next week.

“I’m not ruling out having a face-to-face debate with Mr. Wilkinson,” Horgan said. “We’ll see what happens but we want to certainly get through the municipal campaigns right now.

“That’s where people are focusing their attentions. And the discussion about making our electoral system fairer, making sure that there is less conflict and more cooperation is something that Mr. Wilkinson and I will have ample opportunity to talk about I’m sure, in the weeks ahead.”

Wilkinson issued the challenge Monday. He said he was touring the province during the summer, and found “most British Columbians” were not even aware that a referendum is coming up. He called for a one-on-one debate with Horgan, not including B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who made the referendum a condition of supporting the NDP minority government last year.

“As leaders of the two largest parties in the province, I believe it’s our responsibility to come together to ensure that British Columbians understand the arguments for and against altering our electoral system,” Wilkinson said. “Let’s provide voters with the information they deserve ahead of this profoundly important vote.”

Horgan used much of his speech at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention to pitch changing the provincial election system to one of three forms of proportional representation.

When the rules and questions for the referendum were revealed on the last day of the legislature session in May, Wilkinson called it a “sleazy and manipulative” step to avoid public debate. The referendum itself was rushed into place with an “alphabet soup” of untested options and no voter turnout threshold, he said.

Ballots are to be mailed out in late October to all registered voters in B.C., and must be returned by the end of November.

Attorney General David Eby has decided the ballot will contain two questions, the first being a choice between the current “first past the post” system for choosing MLAs, and a proportional representation system.

The second question is a choice of three systems, determined after review of more than 90,000 submissions. They are:

• Dual member proportional, where neighbouring pairs of districts in B.C. would be combined into one two-member constituencies, except for the larger rural districts, which would remain unchanged.

• Mixed member proportional, which combines single-member districts with party list candidates, added to give each party the number of seats determined by their share of the province-wide vote in an election.

• Rural-urban proportional representation, with multi-member districts for urban and semi-urban areas, with voters choosing their MLA on a ranked ballot. In rural areas, a mixed-member proportional system using candidate lists chosen by parties would be used.

The complexity of the options means voters will not have an official map of the new voting districts when they make their choice. Eby said if voters choose to change to a new system, the district boundaries would be determined by the independent Electoral Boundaries Commission.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Proportional representation

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

Just Posted

The Canoe Forest Products plywood plant in Salmon Arm is holding its own. (File photo)
Canoe Forest Products in Salmon Arm holding its own during pandemic

General manager says pandemic has not forced layoffs, still 180 people working

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

A line of cars was left waiting for a train at the Marine Park Drive railway crossing as a train halted by a mechanical issue blocked both crossings in the area for close to an hour. (Photo Submitted)
Mechanical issues stall traffic at Salmon Arm rail crossings

Train was stopped on tracks blocking crossings at Narcisse Street and Marine Park Drive

Due to restrictions around COVID-19, access to the Larch Hills chalet will be limited for the 2020/21 cross-country ski season. (File photo)
Early snow means early cross-country skiing at Shuswap’s Larch Hills

COVID-19 requirements restrict use of chalet, postpones of events

The CP Holiday Train stops in Salmon Arm on Dec. 14, 2019. (File photo)
CP Holiday Train at Home to give $7,000 to Salmon Arm food bank

Council members express appreciation for support of the Shuswap from CP Rail

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Summerland residents have been receiving a telephone scam with the number showing as the telephone number of the local RCMP detachment. (Black Press Media files)
Summerland RCMP telephone number spoofed in scam calls

Number used in scam attempts from tax agency

(Village of Lumby photo)
Mysterious, loud ‘boom’ shakes North Okanagan residents

Village staff, Earthquakes Canada aren’t sure what caused the explosion-like sound

Clarence Fulton students collect cash and non-perishable food donations for families in need in their community Friday, Nov. 27. (Jennifer Smith  - Morning Star)
North Okanagan students collect food for families in need

Annual event to support nine school families this year

Take a break from the slopes to discover the rich culture and diversity of Vernon. Michelle Beaudry photo, courtesy Tourism Vernon.
Tourism Vernon could see 40% cut to budget due to COVID-19

New approach to help residents and visitors activate their adventures

Danika Rennie and Myles Lowe sport some realistic fake facial hair for Parkview Elementary’s moustache day on Nov. 27. (Contributed)
Snapshot: Moustache Day at Parkview

Parkview Elementary students showed up with their best false facial hair on Nov. 27

Follow public health recommendations, says Interior Health as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Revelstoke. (Image courtesy CDC)
Revelstoke positive COVID cases grows to 29

Interior Health announced a cluster in the community on Nov. 26

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Most Read