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

Homeless deaths in Surrey quadruple between 2007 and 2016

Deaths in the city spiked in 2015 from the previous year

South Surrey firefighters rescue cat from tree

The cat ‘got himself a little too high for comfort’

Surrey’s truck survey closes Sunday

‘Sustainable solutions for authorized commercial truck parking’ sought

Sunny’s Bridal in Surrey to showcase at Vancouver Fashion Week

Business got its start in south Vancouver in the 1990s

Surrey forensic nurse says vote Early, vote often

If Sheila Early wins YWCA award, Scotiabank will donate $10K to violence prevention services program for women

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

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

North Delta happenings: week of March 21

Events, courses and clubs listings for North Delta

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

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

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

Most Read