Premier John Horgan and B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson debate in Vancouver Wednesday. (CBC)

John Horgan, Andrew Wilkinson square off on B.C. voting referendum

Proportional representation turnout less than 3% as leaders debate

Premier John Horgan and B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson went head to head in a TV debate Thursday evening, trying to sway voters to their side with less than three weeks left for them to cast their mail-in ballots.

Horgan supports the proportional representation option, while Wilkinson wants to keep the existing first-past-the-post system. But two weeks into the voting period, the runaway leader is none of the above, with fewer than three per cent of the more than three million ballots filled out and returned.

The debate in the B.C. legislature has been bitter, and centred mainly around the process used by the NDP and B.C. Green Party to push this referendum through without the independent consultation that preceded B.C.’s previous two in 2005 and 2009.

With only a half hour to make their cases, Wilkinson and Horgan stayed with their familiar themes. “Let’s get modern, let’s get hip,” Horgan said, emphasizing the traditional first-past-the-post system’s history of giving a majority to parties who did not get more than half the votes.

Wilkinson hammered the point that many ballots are being “thrown in the trash” because people haven’t had the time or information to assess the options. He repeatedly asked Horgan how the new systems would work in detail, such as how many MLAs the province will end up with.

RELATED: NDP ministers defend proportional representation vote

RELATED: What you need to know about voting in B.C. referendum

Horgan defended the process that will leave many details, including the size and shape of proportional representation constituencies, to be decided after the vote. He said an independent commission will draw the new seat boundaries if more than half of voters choose proportional representation.

Wilkinson pointed out repeatedly that two of the three new options have never been used anywhere in the world, and said political interference by the NDP and B.C. Green parties will continue after the ballots are counted.

Completed referendum packages must be received at Elections B.C. by Friday, Nov. 30 at 4:30 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman said experience with other mail-in referendums suggests that counting will take three to four weeks, depending on the final turnout. That would put the announcement of results close to Christmas.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Indian Day School students eligible for $10K apiece

Islanders included in settlement package reached with Canada’s federal government

Discovery Island wolf continues to thrive

The wolf, known as ‘Takaya’, has lived on the island for seven years

Early indications say allergy season could be milder this spring

The Aerobiology Lab collects pollen samples from across Canada to help make predictions

EDITORIAL: Housing is one of our basic needs

We all need food, clothing and shelter first

BIG READ: The two sides of the Strait of Georgia roe herring fishery

The case for the Strait of Georgia roe herring fishery Comox fisherman,… Continue reading

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Parksville’s mystery cowboy revealed

Kevin Gourlay’s horse garners attention for being ‘parked’ outside a liquor store

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

Free blood type tattoo with donation draws crowdsin Finland, interest in Canada

One in two people is eligible and able to donate blood, but only one in 60 people actually do

Timelapse shows Blue Morpho chrysalis morphing in Victoria

One of many species of butterflies at the Butterfly Gardens

Tagalog, Arabic and Urdu among fastest growing languages in Canada

Italian and German have seen double-digit drops, while French and English are growing, but slowly

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Most Read