Unopened referendum packages placed in ‘return to sender’ basket at an apartment building: the secretly developed, rushed choice in the third attempt to change B.C.’s voting system amounts to voter suppression. (Twitter)

B.C. VIEWS: The conquest of rural B.C. nears completion

Chapter three: control MLA selection from party headquarters

It’s been just over a year since Premier John Horgan executed the first of three policy shifts to put power into the hands of established political parties.

Chapter one was reversing his campaign pledge to keep parties out of the public purse. Out went corporate and union donations, in came the looting of roughly $27 million, divided between B.C. Liberal, NDP and Green parties over four years according to their 2017 vote share.

It’s just transitional, you understand. Party bosses can choose to cut it off in five years. The NDP tabled opposition bills six times to get rid of corporate and union donations, and never once mentioned a public subsidy. But you don’t hear a peep from any party since they all started cashing fat welfare cheques 10 months ago.

Chapter two was engineering the move to proportional representation. Green boss Andrew Weaver didn’t even want a referendum. As soon as he got his first demand, party status without four MLAs, he pressed for terms that would skew the mail-in vote toward his urban support base.

Horgan’s promise to preserve a regional voice in the referendum died quietly, without much struggle, well before NDP ringmaster David Eby finally revealed the questions on the last day of the spring legislature session. Metro Vancouver and South Island will decide it now.

The exact wording of the NDP platform was: “We’ll ensure B.C.’s regions are all represented fairly.” Now, any turnout, from anywhere, is good enough. (That was my personal deal-breaker when I wrote last December that I’ll be voting no.)

A smooth campaign is now in place, focusing on college and university campuses, an Eby specialty. Public sector unions, the main source of NDP government staffers, are working their members for a yes vote. Social justice warriors see rural resource employees as a problem to be eliminated.

Chapter three is voter suppression. Horgan first tried to keep the hodgepodge of invented options quiet until after the summer, because no one would want to talk “pro rep” while barbecuing.

Now the ballots are going out, and two of the options “have never been used in this solar system,” as Chilliwack MLA John Martin put it.

I’ll save the long explanation of how they all work, because some details and maps won’t be available until after the mail-in votes are counted just before Christmas. All Elections B.C. will say is that constituencies get bigger with proportional representation.

GORDON GIBSON: Third B.C. referendum is dishonest, misleading

NICK LOENEN: Proportional representation curbs extremist movements

Horgan and Eby suppressed maps by rushing to the referendum, and sure enough, one of the options is a Frankenstein-style hybrid sewed together in Eby’s office. It purports to leave rural regions alone, while some multi-member creature lurches to life for the rest of us.

Instead of picking a name and party to represent your region, you may find that a computer algorithm selects your MLA, based on province-wide distribution of votes. The dual-member option lets parties pick their first- and second-choice candidates, then move votes from one to the other to appoint their favourite.

There is not a single credible argument to support any of the three options being foisted on people without the time and information required to assess them. As with the grab of millions to fund established parties, this is a cynical bid to centralize power to them.

Especially if you live outside major urban centres, the only sensible option is to keep the current first-past-the-post system. Don’t dignify the other three choices with a vote.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureProportional representation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds fill Chilliwack streets for Black Lives Matter march

‘Canada has a problem too,’ reads at least one protester’s sign

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

Chilliwack RCMP heard gunfire en route to suspicous activity

Chilliwack man, 42, sent to hospital after shooting, RCMP have confirmed

Flock on vacation

The sun sets over Harrison and its feathered residents

REAL ESTATE: Home Sales Vital To Economic Recovery

Freddy Marks encourages care when implementing new taxes

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found the body while on foot patrol: Surrey RCMP

Most Read