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Trustworthy pro rep referendum process

Letter to the Editor from Antoinette Halberstadt of Castlegar

Thanks partly to the work of the BC Citizens Assembly whose process Mr. Gordon Gibson in his recent editorial (“B.C.’s proportional representation vote in dishonest, misleading” Trail Times Oct. 24) is rightfully proud of designing, much consultation on improving our election system has been done.

An Assembly participant Shoni Field, now says: “I was one of the randomly chosen citizens …who spent 2004 consulting with British Columbians and learning about voting systems. We voted 146 to 7 to recommend a proportional voting system.”

Among the options they originally came up with, were Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) and Single Transferable Vote (STV), both now on the current referendum ballot if people want to answer its Question 2.

Told to come up with just one system, they opted for STV. Those 2005 and 2009 referenda, though coming close, failed to pass the abnormally-high threshold the government set, mostly because STV was one size that didn’t fit all, namely Interior regions.

Public consultation resumed in early 2017, when both the Greens and NDP campaigned for Proportional Rep. Keeping their campaign promise, our Attorney General established the “How We Vote” citizen engagement process in November 2017. Yielding over 88,000 responses – the biggest public consultation BC has ever had – this May it recommended the three choices now on our ballots.

On August 28 2018 when the ICBA tried to get an injunction against this referendum, the BC Supreme Court — in the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association v. British Columbia case — dismissed the same arguments Mr Gibson now tries again.

In denying their injunction, here’s what the judge said:

“[122] I find that the petitioners are now engaged in rhetoric, conjecture and exaggeration. There is no evidence to support their assertions that the referendum process is intended to produce a particular result which the government favours, or that it is a rushed process”

Antoinette Halberstadt


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