LET’S SEE IF we can boil down the plan for a referendum on electoral-system changes in B.C., shall we?
Notice, by the way, I use the neutral term “electoral-system change” rather than the loaded “electoral reform” as favoured by the government. To reform something means to improve it, and it’s by no means certain that anything will be improved by this referendum.
Anyway, the report released by Attorney General David Eby and immediately hailed by Premier John Horgan proposes that we vote not on one question, but on several, with two different ways of voting on them.
We are to vote first on whether we want to change the system, and then on three proportional-representation options if we indeed want to change it. But if we don’t want to change the system, we can still vote on the second question.
The first question is a straight choice, the second will employ a ranked ballot.
We are not to worry about the details of how the change is to come about if we vote yes to change. That will all be worked out for us.
Not only that, a second referendum would be held two elections from now, as if the government of that future day could in any way be bound to follow through with it.
So much for the simplicity and clarity promised by the government.
No citizens assembly, no regional threshold, no all-party committee, no Legislative debate. Not even any electoral maps of what ridings would look like under any of the three PR options.
As Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson described it Wednesday, “It is massively biased in a stacked deck in a rigged game.”
And Premier John Horgan’s response to demands for clarity? “Are you so obtuse that you don’t understand?”
Isn’t that nice?
That said, the Eby report has done a big favour for opponents of proportional representation. The ballot is so cluttered with options and alternative, overly complicated, voting systems that, surely, voters will ignore the mess and make an easy decision — keep first-past-the-post.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.