NATIONAL PULSE – B.C. residents split three ways on changing voting system

Premier John Horgan with Attorney General David Eby. (Image: Facebook)

A third are undecided on issue of proportional representation, most worry about minority governments


September 28, 2018 – With less than a month before ballots are mailed to voters, British Columbia’s 2018 referendum on proportional representation appears to be headed for a tight race.

A pair of new public opinion polls from the Angus Reid Institute find B.C. residents split as to whether they prefer to keep the current, first-past-the-post (FPTP) system or change to a new system of proportional representation (PR). Significantly, fully one-third of British Columbians are undecided as to how they would vote on this key question.

While slightly more B.C. residents choose PR over FPTP, this advantage is well within the margin of error. Moreover, groups that have historically been more likely to vote – including older respondents and those with higher household incomes – are more likely to say they plan to vote for FPTP.

These dynamics drive the months-long campaign, with advocates on both sides having their work cut out to mobilize their bases and convince those on the fence to send in a ballot for their side before the Nov. 30 deadline. This, in contrast to a national landscape in which residents of most provinces prefer a hypothetical change to PR from FPTP when asked to choose between the two in their own provinces

More Key Findings:

  • Most British Columbians (61%) believe a system that more closely reflects parties’ actual popular support would increase voter turnout, but they’re torn on the likely consequence of this: That the province would have more minority governments in the future. Half (48%) don’t like this prospect
  • On the second question in B.C.’s referendum, a Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) system is the clear favourite with twice as many first-choice votes as any other option
  • Whether they favour PR or FPTP, Canadians overwhelmingly agree that it’s important for a province to have a referendum before making a major change to the voting system (80% agree with this nationally, as do 80% in B.C.)

Link to the poll here:


About Mel Rothenburger (6472 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.

1 Comment on NATIONAL PULSE – B.C. residents split three ways on changing voting system

  1. Federally minority governments have been common and were good government. They gave us Old Age Security (PM McKenzie-King), Canada Pension Plan, Medicare, The Canada Flag, Canada Student Loans (all under PM Pearson), The Accountability Act (PM Harper), and debt pay-down instead of deficits (PM Martin). Many of these bills became key institutions that have come to help define the Canadian identity. Opposite to the approach to ramming through omnibus bills, under a minority government parties cooperated on bills before voting, leading to buy-in and lasting legislation that was not overturned by a subsequent government led by the other main party. It may seem messy because it takes longer for a minority government to get under way, but it is more effective.

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