Premier John Horgan and B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson debate proportional representation, Nov. 8, 2018. (Youtube)

John Horgan shrugs off low turnout, change to referendum option

‘No’ proportional representation group says voting should be extended

Premier John Horgan says he’s not altering the rules of his government’s referendum halfway through, because the change he is making to proportional representation is one all three B.C. political parties agree on.

Horgan said last week he is personally opposed to “closed lists” chosen by parties to select MLAs to fill out their province-wide share of the vote, after an election under proportional representation. This week, with voting half over, he added that he will instruct NDP MLAs to support open lists, which allow voters to choose MLAs directly by whatever system emerges.

Closed lists are opposed by all three parties in the B.C. legislature, Horgan said.

“So I don’t believe I’ve amended anything other than to put forward what is self-evident,” he said. “Closed lists aren’t in the interests of British Columbians.”

Horgan also shrugged off concerns about the low response to more than three million mail-in ballots, which had reached only 7.4 per cent by Thursday with less than two weeks remaining for them to be received at Elections B.C. He said there was some impact from rotating strikes by Canada Post employees, and avoided the question of how high the turnout needs to be to be legitimate.

“Certainly I want to see as much participation as possible,” Horgan said. “We’ve had mail-in referenda in the past that have seen in the neighbourhood of 40 to 50 per cent response.”

The No B.C. Proportional Representation Society, the official ‘no’ group funded by the government, cited postal lags and low turnout in its call Thursday to extend the deadline and declare a minimum turnout. Elections B.C. has the option of moving the deadline past Nov. 30 if the postal dispute affects the result, and the NDP cabinet retains control over what happens after the result is in.

“Surely a turnout of at least 50 per cent plus one of the eligible voters actually casting ballots must also be accepted before such significant change can be introduced,” said Bill Tieleman, president of the No society.

RELATED: Horgan, Wilkinson square off in TV debate

RELATED: Pro rep means more B.C. parties, coalitions

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said the low turnout is a signal from the public.

“British Columbians have not been persuaded by John Horgan’s little game to change our voting system, and they’re showing that by not returning their ballots,” Wilkinson said. “Horgan needs to understand that British Columbians are smart enough to know they’re being taken to the cleaners.”

Wilkinson said ruling out “closed lists” after 200,000 people have voted is just one of the indications that the NDP and B.C. Green Party will control the committee that decides how the referendum result will be implemented.

“John Horgan is pretending to do us all a favour by revealing one of his 23 cards, when he actually controls the whole game,” Wilkinson said. “If he would be more candid in what he’s doing, people would have more trust in this process, and the wise people of British Columbia would be able to make an informed decision.”

During their televised debate Nov. 8, Wilkinson repeatedly pressed Horgan to give details such as the total number of MLAs, the number for each multi-member constituency and how extra MLAs would be selected and distributed.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ucluelet’s Edge-to-Edge Marathon turns 20 this weekend

Over 400 runners get set for half-marathon or 10K distances.

WATCH: Tofino byelection candidates respond to community concerns at forum

Tofino will vote in a municipal byelection on Nov. 2.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to campaign in Port Alberni

Singh joins Courtenay-Alberni candidate for rally to kick off final weekend before election

Tofino byelection candidates explain why they’re running

Town to vote on Nov. 2 to fill council seat left vacant by tragic death of Coun. Dorothy Baert

West Coast becoming a vibrant bike community

“This area has everything and more to offer for riding enthusiasts of all diverse ages.”

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

With $4M investment, Camosun College offers first sonography program on Vancouver Island

Starting in May 2020 students from Vancouver Island can pursue a career in sonography

Most Read