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.

Just Posted

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Bear orphanage dealing with high number of cubs

Northern Lights Wildlife Society needs fruit and vegetables for orphans

Northwest Wave Riders return from Victoria Dragon Boat Festival

This was the first time in 25 years that northern B.C. teams competed

Feds approve $4M for Tahltan protected and conserved areas

Well defined stewardship will help nation reduce uncertainties for resource partners

BC Parks student rangers complete several northwest B.C. conservation projects

This was the first time the summer program operated out of Terrace

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Most Read