VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – It could be fall before voters see the final question on a proportional representation referendum we were promised before the end of the year.
Premier John Horgan admits it’s taking longer than expected to formalize what the ballot will look like, but he insists there’s no rush to have it ready right now.
“People will be enjoying their summer. They’ll be getting on with their lives and when we come back in the fall, there will be a question, there will be ample information, in fact, I suggest there may well be criticisms that there’s too much information. I don’t believe in April, that people are focused on that and if people contact me or you and say they don’t have enough information, I suggest you pass it on to me and I’ll do my level best to get them the information they need.”
It’s likely the ballot will be finalized before or by September.
“We have election campaigns that last 28 days that cover a whole range of issues and the public has the wherewithal to make their choices based on that information. So, at this point in time, I’m comfortable that the attorney general is managing the process as he’s been asked to do and we will have a question and it will be one that is simple and straightforward and the public will understand it.”
Opposition Critic Michael Lee, who’s the Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Langara, says that’s reckless considering voters had several months to inform themselves before past referendums in 2005 and 2009 which failed.
“They’re doing this for their own purposes. It is not fair to British Columbians and clearly, the Premier is not taking this seriously if he’s suggesting that the question won’t be out until the fall.”
Lee adds concerns remain about this process favouring some form of proportional representation rather than the first past the post system we currently have.
“Only months away from this referendum and British Columbians don’t have the question we’re all going to need to vote on. We’re talking about a referendum that will be likely held around the time that the next municipal elections will be held around this province. I think there will be a lot of distraction, a lot of things people have in their lives, so we need to give people that opportunity.”
Lee feels it may already be too late for many to make an informed decision.
“Because we don’t know the question. We don’t know what’s being proposed. There hasn’t been opportunity for the kinds of discussions and debates that people want to have. British Columbians are clearly running out of time to consider something as fundamental as this.”
He’s also suggesting the process, so far, heavily favours some form of proportional representation replacing the current system we have which is first past the post.
Meanwhile, no date has been set for the referendum which was promised to take place before winter.