Unopened referendum packages placed in ‘return to sender’ basket at an apartment building: the secretly developed, rushed choice in the third attempt to change B.C.’s voting system amounts to voter suppression. (Twitter)

B.C. VIEWS: The conquest of rural B.C. nears completion

Chapter three: control MLA selection from party headquarters

It’s been just over a year since Premier John Horgan executed the first of three policy shifts to put power into the hands of established political parties.

Chapter one was reversing his campaign pledge to keep parties out of the public purse. Out went corporate and union donations, in came the looting of roughly $27 million, divided between B.C. Liberal, NDP and Green parties over four years according to their 2017 vote share.

It’s just transitional, you understand. Party bosses can choose to cut it off in five years. The NDP tabled opposition bills six times to get rid of corporate and union donations, and never once mentioned a public subsidy. But you don’t hear a peep from any party since they all started cashing fat welfare cheques 10 months ago.

Chapter two was engineering the move to proportional representation. Green boss Andrew Weaver didn’t even want a referendum. As soon as he got his first demand, party status without four MLAs, he pressed for terms that would skew the mail-in vote toward his urban support base.

Horgan’s promise to preserve a regional voice in the referendum died quietly, without much struggle, well before NDP ringmaster David Eby finally revealed the questions on the last day of the spring legislature session. Metro Vancouver and South Island will decide it now.

The exact wording of the NDP platform was: “We’ll ensure B.C.’s regions are all represented fairly.” Now, any turnout, from anywhere, is good enough. (That was my personal deal-breaker when I wrote last December that I’ll be voting no.)

A smooth campaign is now in place, focusing on college and university campuses, an Eby specialty. Public sector unions, the main source of NDP government staffers, are working their members for a yes vote. Social justice warriors see rural resource employees as a problem to be eliminated.

Chapter three is voter suppression. Horgan first tried to keep the hodgepodge of invented options quiet until after the summer, because no one would want to talk “pro rep” while barbecuing.

Now the ballots are going out, and two of the options “have never been used in this solar system,” as Chilliwack MLA John Martin put it.

I’ll save the long explanation of how they all work, because some details and maps won’t be available until after the mail-in votes are counted just before Christmas. All Elections B.C. will say is that constituencies get bigger with proportional representation.

GORDON GIBSON: Third B.C. referendum is dishonest, misleading

NICK LOENEN: Proportional representation curbs extremist movements

Horgan and Eby suppressed maps by rushing to the referendum, and sure enough, one of the options is a Frankenstein-style hybrid sewed together in Eby’s office. It purports to leave rural regions alone, while some multi-member creature lurches to life for the rest of us.

Instead of picking a name and party to represent your region, you may find that a computer algorithm selects your MLA, based on province-wide distribution of votes. The dual-member option lets parties pick their first- and second-choice candidates, then move votes from one to the other to appoint their favourite.

There is not a single credible argument to support any of the three options being foisted on people without the time and information required to assess them. As with the grab of millions to fund established parties, this is a cynical bid to centralize power to them.

Especially if you live outside major urban centres, the only sensible option is to keep the current first-past-the-post system. Don’t dignify the other three choices with a vote.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cannabis store offers sneak preview

With Town of Creston bylaws and approvals now in place, the opening… Continue reading

Council approves Blossom Festival Beer Garden

A request from Casey’s Community House to close 12th Avenue North between… Continue reading

Police deal with personal disputes

Creston RCMP received 48 calls for assistance, many involving personal disputes, from April 9-15.

Fruitvale man identified in fatal zipline accident in Thailand

Spencer Donaldson, 25, was from Fruitvale, B.C., the city’s mayor has confirmed

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Police probe eight fires set at B.C. elementary school

Nanaimo RCMP say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Most Read