BC Liberals fight electoral reform, say it will hurt for rural areas including Vancouver Island

BC Liberals fight electoral reform, say it will hurt for rural areas including Vancouver Island

WATCH: B.C. politicians’ last day at the legislature for 2017 is Nov. 30.  And before they head back to their ridings, they are expected to pass legislation that paves the way for a referendum next year. It’s a bill on electoral reform, an issue both the Greens and NDP campaigned on.  But as Mary Griffin reports, the Liberals say the legislation is unfair to many British Columbians.

It’s a way of electing governments in dozens of countries around the world, including Switzerland, Greece, and Germany.  Through proportional representation, the number of seats a party holds is equal to the popular vote.

The Greens and NDP are currently working to change B.C.’s current first-past-the-post system to proportional representation.

However, over on Vancouver Island, proportional representation may not necessarily change for the better with a new system, according to Royal Roads University professor David Black.

“A PR system, might in some sense, eliminate the ridings as we know them. And create a different kind of community, and regional basis for representation,” Black said.

B.C. Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson’s concern is the lack of contact rural residents would have with their elected representatives regarding an electoral change. “There’s a lot of concern in rural areas of British Columbia about this process,” Wilkinson said. “And about the potential result in proportional representation in government. That the Green and NDP seem to be willing to tune out completely.”

It’s an issue dominating the last week of the legislature before it breaks for Christmas.  B.C. Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong grilled Attorney General David Eby during Question Period.

“Why has the government and the premier, in particular, broken their word, abandoned rural B.C. and endorsed a process that could see fewer than 20 per cent of British Columbians determine something as fundamental as electoral reform in this province?” de Jong said.

But Eby deflected his comments, “It was a pleasure to be at the NDP convention. I don’t remember the conversation quite the way the member does though.”

The government is expected to pass legislation Thursday that paves the way for a referendum next fall on changing the voting system.

The B.C. NDP is also asking the public to provide input ahead of next year’s referendum on proportional representation. From Nov. 23 until Feb. 28, 2018, British Columbians can go online and provide input on key elements of the referendum, including ballot design, choice of voting systems and public funding distribution.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!