The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce membership recently met to discuss the Provincial Government’s proposed election reform.
The current electoral reform initiative provides insufficient clarity as to what B.C. voters will be asked in a mail-in referendum. There is no opportunity to engage citizens in a productive discussion to better understand each option, how it would work, and what the likely impact on the public agenda (government priorities and focus) would be. Voters may be asked to vote on something of which they are not fully aware. It is that exact outcome the B.C. government was concerned about almost 20 years ago when it decided to take the extraordinary step of creating the Citizens’ Assembly.
Recognizing that the Provincial Government has determined that British Columbians should vote, for a third time, on potential changes to the voting system, and that the Provincial Government is conducting ongoing consultation regarding this process, the Kamloops Chamber membership formulated three recommendations for the Provincial Government:
- Clearly define the system of proportional representation that is being considered, well in advance of any referendum;
- Appoint a non-partisan examination of the likely outcomes of an alternative system prior to issuing a referendum, comparable to the previous Citizen’s Assembly, examining the implications of the proportional representation being considered, particularly, its implications on rural/urban divide, measures to avoid corruption and “back room deals,” and whether the system promotes greater loyalty to parties rather than the region the MLA represents; and
- Confirm that no changes will be implemented unless there is a clear majority in accordance with the current Referendum Act.
Joshua Knaak, President of the board of directors for the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce:
“While the mechanics of how proportional representation would be implemented in B.C. have yet to be defined, it is clear that a shift to a new voting system would fundamentally change the governance structure of the province, with significant implications to the business community.”
“Any changes to the electoral system that bring about substantive changes with unclear outcomes and put B.C. at a variance with other provinces/territories must be carefully considered.”
— Kamloops Chamber of Commerce