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

Area A Director Ali Grieve (right), Village of Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette (front), and Village of Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh (left) held a congratulatory ceremony for Beaver Valley students who are part of the Class of 2021 graduates of J. L. Crowe Secondary at Beaver Creek Park on Thursday. Photo: Jim Bailey
Beaver Valley Grads of 2021

Beaver Valley mayors, RDKB Area A director celebrate their 2021 graduates with gift ceremony

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Most Read