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

Yale man arrested after fleeing police downtown Hope

Man arrested on three outstanding warrants after being caught in stolen van

Harrison to bring better lighting to boat launch

The four new lights were made possible by not replacing concrete light poles on Hot Springs Road

Rail group to bring plan to Abbotsford council

Group is calling for plans to run trains on rail line between Chilliwack and Surrey

EDITORIAL: What does being a Corn Capital really mean?

The Observer has been asked to help Agassiz become a bigger Corn Capital. But what does that mean?

Construction project in Hope means bus diversion starting today

Bus riders will have to flag down driver for Route 22

VIDEO: Agassiz remembers local officer at grave-marking ceremony

Montague White-Fraser had been buried in the Old Cemetery for 92 years without a headstone

Man arrested after allegedly attacking people with syringe in Burnaby mall

Police say that no one has yet to come forward with injuries consistent with needle stab wounds

Horgan hints at Daylight Saving Time changes after record survey response

More than 223,000 online surveys were submitted in the government’s public consultation

Memorial park bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in Kitsilano, for now

Vancouver Park Board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

Coroner investigating after body recovered from Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part two: Who’s affected by the current opioid crisis

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Jurors talk about trial of U.S. man convicted in 1987 murders of B.C. couple

Three jurors offer a window into deliberations during the trial

Tubing world record broken on Vancouver Island

But record for length of tubes linked together still has to be confirmed

Most Read