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.

BC legislatureProportional representation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack Salvation Army to give away free laundry detergent and more at drive-thru event

They will be handing out Tide detergent, toothpaste and eggs to anyone who is in need

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Majority of birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Chilliwack heritage house

House-moving company relocated Hope River Road home to Riverside Drive

UPDATE w/ PHOTOS: Chilliwack fire crews tackle vacant house fire on Rowat Avenue Friday

Empty house was boarded up and behind fencing on lots slated for redevelopment

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read