Just in case you haven’t heard, July 1st marks the official launch of the referendum campaign that will end November 30th with a mail-in ballot to change the way we elect a provincial government in British Columbia. So far the NDP and the Green Party have been widely accused of attempting to stack the deck by manipulating the ballot question.
Most referendums ask a simple and clear ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question to ensure the correct gauge of public opinion. But that’s not going to happen this time around. The ballot question is divided into two parts. The first question will ask voters if they prefer the current system (First Past the Post), or if they want to switch to some form of proportional representation (PR).
If you select PR, the ballot then asks voters to rank which kind of system they want in order of preference:
- Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
- Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
- Rural-Urban PR
The last two models are not used by any jurisdiction on the planet, so I wonder why anyone would somehow be inclined to prefer one over the other. Furthermore, who really knows what the difference is between MMP, DMP or what the heck Rural-Urban PR is? Has our Premier just directed people to google it? Really Mr. Premier!
What the NDP and the Green Party really wants is the first option, mixed member proportional representation, because it will redraw the political map of B.C. in favour of the majority of voters residing in Metro Vancouver and Victoria, where coincidentally most of NDP and Green seats are located.
This may be considered ‘proportional’ but hardly ‘representative’ of northern and rural British Columbia that will lose seats in the Legislature to make room for a whole new generation MLAs selected from exclusively party sponsored lists. People will longer vote for a local representative. Instead, they are turning over their voting power to political parties who know better than you.
The one thing government is not telling you is that this whole exercise could be null and void if the Green Party pulls the plug on the current NDP minority government before July 1st, 2021. If that happens, the referendum would be scrapped and an election held using the current first past the post system. The NDP added this fine print to the agreement to ensure that their razor-thin minority government is kept afloat by the three-member Green Party for as long as possible.
I have so many issues with how the government is going about this referendum, from the big rush to get it done this fall, the mail-in ballot that you will need to complete, to the everlasting consequences that it will have on British Columbia’s economy. I will be writing a number of columns on this over the next few months looking at the options and what they mean for us here in the north. I will also be planning a public meeting over the summer. Stay tuned….
Member of the Legislative Assembly
Peace River North