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.

Just Posted

Prince Rupert’s ferry issue is a North Coast issue, MLA Rice

Prince Rupert not alone in fight to save ferry to Ketchikan: Alaskan Rep. Ortiz

Brand new vessel for Massett Marine Rescue

The Tagwaal was unveiled to the public Sept. 6

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Council Briefs: Village of Queen Charlotte

Child care and clean-ups on the agenda

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

On the Wing: Small Yellow Flying Things

by Margo Hearne Distance doesn’t seem to deter migrating birds; they travel… Continue reading

‘This is where the movement is going to start’: Jessica Patrick remembered at memorial march

The march commemorates the one-year anniversary of the 18-year-old’s unsolved death

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Most Read