B.C.’s political leaders face off in fiery pro rep debate


WATCH: Premier John Horgan and Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson squared off in a debate Thursday night on electoral reform. At times, during the thirty minutes, it was tough for either leader to get a word in. Mary Griffin reports.

Debate host Lynda Steele kicked off Thursday night’s debate with opening remarks. “Good evening, and thank-you for joining us on television, radio, and online for the only debate on electoral reform in B.C.”

The thirty minute debate started out cordially enough with Premier John Horgan outlining his position.

“This fall you have the opportunity to modernize our electoral system by choosing proportional representation or sticking with the status quo,” Horgan said.

Then Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson took on the premier.

“John Horgan’s pitch sounds pretty good to start with. But here’s what he’s not telling you, under his plan up to half the MLA’s will be chosen by party insiders.”

It didn’t take long for the crosstalk to kick in and really didn’t stop.

“You won’t tell people how they work,” Wilkinson said.

“I’m thinking Wheel of Fortune is looking pretty good right about now,” Horgan said.

Despite the bickering, viewers tuned in. Ratings from last night topped 300,000 people on Vancouver Island, and Vancouver, with thousands more in the rest of B.C. Add the radio audience from two networks, and those watching the live streams, it’s estimated the total audience of more than 500,000.

The winner, according to Royal Roads political scientist David Black, was the premier.

“I think Horgan had the better night. He was able to be more self-disciplined. to find moments of humour. To offer a few colourful lines referencing a game show. And speaking in millennial idiom about being “woke”, and “lit”,” Black said.

Debates are all about how the politicians look, and sound.  As an image consultant, Tracy Richardson has worked with Canadian politicians for 25 years.  She felt that Horgan could have stepped up a little more. “So I wanted him to be a little bit more aggressive because I thought the, his opponent was too aggressive, and I stopped listening to him. Because he was irritating me,” Richardson said.

Meanwhile, the two politicians continued their debate, with interruptions spiced throughout the night. ”

And the line that defined the night, love it or hate it, went to Horgan.

“Young people like the idea of working together. If you were woke, you’d know that PR is lit,” Horgan said.

Voters have until Nov. 30 to mail in their referendum ballots.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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