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Fractious debate on Pro Rep may not help voters

Thursday, November 8 ~ BC.

by West Shore Voice News

Tonight’s televised-streamed leaders debate on Proportional Representation and the current referendum ballot process was of the same fractious nature that is frequently the norm during Question Period in the BC Legislative Assembly.

Premier John Horgan and Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson mostly covered aspects of the ballots and referendum process itself and the basic rights of voters within an electoral process.

john horgan, andrew wilkinson, proportional representation
Televised/streamed debate on Proportional Representation [screenshot Nov 8 2018]
CBC and Global presented the debate both on television/radio and online (website, Facebook and Twitter), starting with pre-debate discussion at 6:30 pm (which included detailed but brief descriptions of the various voting methods that are options on the referendum ballots), the debate itself from 7 to 7:30 pm, and some post-debate to 8 pm online.

The debate style of avoidance and bickering generally does not appeal to the general public. Both leaders were more effective at defending their positions during media scrums afterward.

It was likely a difficult challenge to intervene between two professional political debaters, as the moderators did not often break up the ineffective debate and over-talking by each of the leaders.

So for the possibly hundreds of thousands of BC voters to devote a portion of their Thursday evening to the event, it may not have produced any gains for either side. Apparently some viewers did not stay tuned in for the full 30 minutes.

john horgan, pro rep
Premier John Horgan speaking with media after the Pro Rep debate.

Horgan himself says he is voting Mixed Member Proportional and encourages British Columbians to choose one of the three options for Proportional Representation on the ballots that have been sent to 3,291,297 eligible voters by postal mail at their home addresses.

Horgan said the process is “simple” in terms of deciding whether to stay with the present system or modernizing the voting system. He reminded his opponent that electoral boundaries are changed under the current system by any government of the day, which in many ways changes the outcome of voting results in a riding.

andrew wilkinson, pro rep
Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaking with media after the Pro Rep debate.

Wilkinson is defiantly in favour of retaining the longstanding First Past the Post system that tends to elect majority governments with less than a majority of the votes. He felt that the ballot options were too complex for many voters who may not focus on political complexities much of the time.

Wilkinson spoke in favour of a citizen’s assembly being more suitable for developing a ballot question, instead of allowing final decision-making about the exact type of Pro Rep system to be in the hands of government to decide.

Ballots started being delivered to voters around BC on October 22 and will be accepted by Elections BC up to 4:30 pm on Friday, November 30. Ballots may be mailed in the postage-paid envelope as provided or taken to a BC Service Centre or Referendum Service Office.

As of November 8, Elections BC had received 86,907 ballots which is 2.6% of ballots from among the 3,291,297 eligible voters across BC.


First tally of Pro-Rep ballot returns (Nov 7)

How and where the debate was broadcast/streamed (Nov 8)

Day 2 tally of Pro-Rep ballot returns (Nov 8)