Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No BC Proportional Representation Society demands two clear, simple choices in fall electoral system referendum; rejects Attorney General David Eby's "neutrality"

No to Proportional Representation in BC

NEWS RELEASE                                                                 Wednesday February 28, 2018

No BC Proportional Representation Society makes recommendations on electoral systems referendum despite “grave worries” on process and results, while rejecting Attorney General David Eby’s “neutrality” in government public consultation process and ballot

The No BC Proportional Representation Society has made several strong recommendations to the BC government public consultation process on the fall referendum on electoral systems despite “grave worries” about the process and its results, while rejecting claims by BC Attorney General David Eby of “neutrality” in supervising the referendum and asking that he remove himself from involvement.

The No BC Proportional Representation Society intends to: “Campaign vigorously in every part of our great province to keep the First Past The Post electoral system that has helped build a strong democracy, an inclusive society and a powerful economy,” it says in its submission to the consultation process which ends today.

The key No BC Proportional Representation Society recommendation is that in the referendum voters should have two clear choices between: “Our current First Past The Post system and whatever Proportional Representation system the government recommends.  There should not be any ‘two-part’ ballots or ‘ranked ballots’ with multiple choices.”

The No BC Proportional Representation Society says it agrees with BC NDP Premier John Horgan, who said before the May 2017 provincial election that: “A consensus on yes or no is pretty easy.  You are going to have 50 per cent say yes or no.”

Unfortunately, says Bill Tieleman – a No BC Proportional Representation Society director, the BC government consultation actually proposed a possible two-part ballot and ranked ballots with multiple choices that would prevent voters from comparing apples to apples or ensuring that they have the full information to decide about competing electoral systems.

“British Columbia voters deserve a clear choice and an understandable alternative to our current First Past The Post electoral system, with detailed information about the negative impacts of potentially dramatic reductions in local, accountable representation,” said Tieleman, a former BC NDP strategist who successfully led opposition to the Single Transferable Vote electoral system in the 2005 and 2009 provincial referenda.  “This is a fundamental question about how British Columbians are governed – and it demands a ballot question with clarity.”

Attorney General Eby’s involvement in making recommendations to the BC cabinet about the referendum process and the ballot question, when he has made public statements supporting Proportional Representation and campaigned on implementing it mean there is a clear perception of bias, says Bob Plecas, a No BC Proportional Representation Society director who served as a deputy minister in many portfolios under several BC governments.
“We respect Attorney General Eby’s genuinely held belief in Proportional Representation that he has expressed personally and as a BC NDP candidate, as is his right,” says Plecas.  “But for that very reason, the Attorney General should not be involved in recommending the ballot question and other important referendum details – he has already made up his mind and therefore should remove himself from the process immediately.”

The No BC Proportional Representation Society also says that the government’s decision to remove strong consensus requirements for changing electoral systems that previously existed in BC’s 2009 and 2005 referenda, as well as identical requirements in Ontario and Prince Edward Island’s referenda in 2007 and 2005, should be reversed.

Changing our electoral system is a very significant decision that not only determines how we will be governed indefinitely but also impacts our economy, our society and our communities,”
says Suzanne Anton, also a No BC Proportional Representation Society director and former BC Liberal Attorney General. 

“BC should return to the 2009 and 2005 requirement that 60% of voters agree to any change to ensure that we have a strong, cross-province consensus and that non-urban voters are not unfairly deprived of their right to local, accountable political representation,” said Anton.  “We also need a requirement that any change has a 50% plus one majority in favour in at least 60% of BC’s geographic ridings to again guarantee a significant consensus.”

“The current BC Strata Property Act demands a 75% vote in favour of any additional expenditures in condominiums – like replacing a furnace – surely changing BC’s electoral system should require more of a consensus than a bare minimum of 50% plus one of those who turn out to vote?” asked Anton.

The No BC Proportional Representation Society also recommends that:

·       the ballot question be drawn up by Elections BC to ensure fairness and neutrality;
·       that the term “electoral reform” be dropped from all government communications due to bias;
·       that both sides in the referendum receive public funding of at least $500,000 each to conduct a province-wide public awareness campaign as in the 2009 referendum;
·       that organizations outside BC be prohibited from funding either side in the referendum;
·       that unions and businesses based in BC be allowed to donate to either side; and
·       that there be no restrictions on third-party advertising by BC-based organizations on either side.

The full No BC Proportional Representation Society submission is online now at the BC government website here.




John Puddifoot said...

Keep up the good work Bill!

Not sure what changing the way will elect our MLAs will fix. We will still end up with a government formed of a majority of the MLAs, and the remaining MLAs will have little or no say. This article says a lot about what democracy actually is:

PR is a solution to a problem BC doesn't have, but will give us problems we don't have now.

John Otvos said...

MMP seems to be the most favoured system of PR, 'round the globe. With all this posturing and pleading, the essential task of realizing that in a multi-party parliamentary system, voices are lost with FPTP, what's all the wrangling about? It seems as though weigh up north the melting ice couldn't give a good gawd damn what homo stupidio is arguing.