IN THE LEDGE – ‘Referendum details will be shared by end of current session’

Debate during Question Period today (May 10, 2018) in the B.C. Legislature between MLA John Martin, MLA Mike Morris and Attorney General David Eby on the referendum on electoral-system changes:

J. Martin: I have right here an email sent on May 8 from Brenton Walters, digital manager of the B.C. NDP. It reads: “I’m writing to provide an update. Within the next few weeks, the Attorney General is expected to make an announcement about what the question will be, when it will happen and what the rules will be for the campaign.”

Let’s get this straight. British Columbians are being kept in the dark on a very important issue, but card-carrying members of the B.C. NDP get an update from the Attorney General. Can the not so impartial Attorney General explain why he or his staff shared information with the B.C. NDP before it was provided to the public?

Hon. D. Eby: The member can look back in Hansard. I was very clear in this House: I expected to have results very shortly to this House. I can advise the member I will in fact, hopefully, have a full report to the House by the end of the session that will include recommendations around the question and the rules and so on. I advised the member in his previous questions: very shortly. It is still the case, and I hope to have it before the end of the session.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Chilliwack on a supplemental.

J. Martin: Well, I thank the Attorney for that, but it doesn’t change the focus here that the information is being provided to members of the B.C. NDP before it’s being shared in this House or before it’s being shared with the general public. The Attorney General has previously admitted that his political staff are managing this dubious process behind the scenes, and we now know that they are colluding with the B.C. NDP. When did the very partial Attorney General or his political staff provide the NDP with the update that they shared with their supporters ahead of all British Columbians?

Hon. D. Eby: I think the member was up just a few weeks ago saying that, clearly, the Premier was indicating that the report would be coming out in October. I mean, obviously, my office has been working independently. I can advise the member that, to my knowledge, not a single member in this House, not a single member of the NDP political party, has any knowledge of what’s in the report. It’s being worked on by Ministry of Attorney General staff, it’s based on consultation British Columbians, and the full report, with all recommendations, will be released before the end of the session. That is our goal, and that is what we’re working towards.

Mr. Speaker: Member for Chilliwack on a second supplemental.

J. Martin: The information that was shared and used by the B.C. NDP was to issue a call to action to members. I quote from the email. “When he makes this announcement, we’ll need your help to hit the ground running.” So will the Attorney General table any and all communication he or his staff have had on this topic with the rank and file of the B.C. NDP?

Hon. D. Eby: I’m not aware of any communication with the B.C. NDP party between me or my staff or any member of the ministry of Attorney General staff that is working on this report. If the member has any information about that, I’d like to know about it. I’m not aware of any. I can’t table any information because to my knowledge, it doesn’t exist. But if the member’s aware of something, I would immediately table it. I’d make the House aware because I’d be very concerned about that.

M. Morris: On April 24, I asked the Attorney General to immediately release all of the raw data received through the public engagement on proportional representation. His response: “The member is going to have to accept yes for an answer.” Why has the very partial Attorney shared information with the B.C. NDP but not released the information he promised?

Hon. D. Eby: I’m not aware of any information-sharing with the B.C. NDP or any other political party in terms of any of the data, of the report, recommendations or anything like that. In fact, it was the members who raised the issue that the Premier said the information would be released in October, which is not correct. I expect to have it out before the end of the session. And to the member, I expect to have all the information to him before the end of the session.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Prince George–Mackenzie on a supplemental.

M. Morris: My office followed up with the Attorney’s office immediately, and we were told: “We’ll get back to you.” But even after a subsequent follow-up, there’s been no reply and no data provided, despite the Attorney General’s promise. It’s outrageous that the B.C. NDP has had no trouble getting information to update their members, and he withholds information from the public. Why doesn’t the very partial Attorney make the information available that he promised me?

Hon. D. Eby: Not only am I going to make the information available to the member; I’ll also make the information available to all members of this House — the recommendations based on the data, the breakdown of the data, the recommendation around rules for the referendum, including the questions that’ll be asked of voters. The member will receive all of that information before the end of the session. I will ensure that that happens.

Source: BC Hansard

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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