B.C. Liberals boost rural vote strength

Shuswap MLA George Abbott is expected to benefit from the B.C. Liberal Party decision to switch to weighted voting that gives rural constituencies the same clout as more populous urban areas.

Shuswap MLA George Abbott is expected to benefit from the B.C. Liberal Party decision to switch to weighted voting that gives rural constituencies the same clout as more populous urban areas.

B.C. Liberal delegates voted overwhelmingly Saturday to change their voting system, giving rural regions equal say with urban populations in the selection of the next party leader and premier.

With all the leadership candidates in favour of the weighted voting system, delegates in Vancouver and at eight regional forums easily reached the two-thirds majority required to make the change. The final count was 1,319 party delegates in favour of the change, and only 23 opposed.

About 1,800 delegates gathered in downtown Vancouver for the vote, with more delegates participating at regional venues in Terrace, Prince George, Fort St. John, Kamloops, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Victoria and Courtenay.

The new voting system was recommended by the B.C. Liberal executive last fall, after Premier Gordon Campbell announced he is stepping down. It will assign 100 points to each of the 85 constituency associations, to be divided proportionally when party members pick a new leader on Feb. 26.

The weighted vote ensures that a constituency with only 100 members will have the same clout in the leadership choice as one with 1,000 members.

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, one of the early proponents of weighted voting, called in to the main convention in Vancouver from Cranbrook one of eight regional forum sites. He pointed out that 16,000 people voted in the last election in Kootenay East, compared with as many as 80,000 eligible voters in some Vancouver constituencies.

Having a weighted vote gives the B.C. Liberal Party a “huge advantage” over the NDP, which has only recently adopted a one member-one vote system.

Former Surrey MLA Gulzar Cheema, who is working on Mike de Jong’s leadership campaign, was among the few opposed to a weighted vote. He said it makes no sense that his vote would suddenly become more valuable if he moves from Surrey to Kamloops.

“If one consituency has been more active [signing up new members], why would you want to punish them?” Cheema said.

Shuswap MLA George Abbott has been the most vocal of the candidates in supporting the weighted system. Abbott has said maintaining a one member-one vote system would make it difficult for any candidate outside the Lower Mainland to win the leadership.

Before deciding on the weighted vote, delegates narrowly endorsed an amendment requiring each leadership voter to pick a minimum of two candidates on the preferential ballot.

De Jong urged delegates to support the requirement for voters to make at least a first and second choice, because he said it would help ensure that the leadership ballot produces a winner with majority support. Rival candidates Abbott and Moira Stilwell also spoke in favour of the two-candidate minimum.

Those opposed to the requirement included Langley MLA Mary Polak and Senator Richard Neufeld, the former energy minister and MLA for Peace River North.

“No one should be forced to cast a vote for a candidate they do not support,” Polak told delegates during debate.

Just Posted

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

Special weather statement issued for Fraser Valley as first summer heat arrives June 20, 2021, and set to persist all week. (Photo by James Day on Unsplash)
Second day of hot temperatures rippling across Fraser Valley

Communities from Abbotsford to Hope will see daytime high maximum temps of 32 degrees

A t-shirt designed by Coast Salish artist Bonny Graham (B. Wyse) includes the phrase ‘every child matters’ in a custom font inspired by Coast Salish design.
Chilliwack FC works with Stó:lō Nation Chiefs Council on t-shirt fundraiser

The youth soccer organization will sell custom-designed orange shirts, donating proceeds to the SNCC

Wilma’s Transition House Charity Golf Tournament takes place Aug. 21, 2021.
Buzz building for 2021 Wilma’s Transition House Charity Golf Tournament

The key fundraiser for the non-profit will be held Aug. 21 at the Cultus Lake Golf Course

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Most Read