Today in the Legislature the BC Government introduced Bill 6: Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act. This Bill provides the legal framework for Elections BC to conduct a referendum before November 30 2018 on proportional representation.
We are absolutely thrilled with the introduction of this Bill. It fulfills a major promise of the Confidence and Supply Agreement that we signed with the BC NDP. In their summer throne speech, the BC Liberals also supported a referendum on proportional representation. As such, I hope that they will also support this bill to ensure that it is adopted unanimously.
In response to the government’s announcement, my colleagues in the BC Green Caucus (Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau) and I sent a letter to the Premier supporting the fact that the Attorney General will be acting as an independent official and that his office will be responsible for drafting the referendum process and question. In the letter we note that to further ensure that the Attorney General’s office can operate with independence, we will not seek to consult with his office when it comes to evaluating submissions that are made to the ministry during the public engagement phase, or on the subsequent decisions regarding the development of a referendum process and referendum question.
Below I reproduce the press release that our caucus spokesperson, Sonia Furstenau, issued in response to the announcement.
Furstenau welcomes legislation to enable proportional representation referendum
For immediate release
October 4, 2017
VICTORIA, B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, B.C. Green Party spokesperson for electoral reform, today welcomed the government legislation to enable a referendum on proportional representation. Attorney General Eby introduced the Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act.
“Proportional representation is about making sure every British Columbian’s vote counts,” said Furstenau.
“B.C. is a diverse province. It is essential that people from all corners of our province feel their voice is heard in their legislature. Canada is one of the last OECD countries to not adopt a proportional voting system. It is time we took this important step towards bringing our democracy into the 21st century.
“As we proceed towards the referendum, it is imperative that the process is fair, transparent and includes robust public engagement. An independent process is essential to ensuring the integrity of the referendum.
“We are currently awaiting more details about the engagement process and look forward to being an active participant. Our caucus has sent a letter to the Premier notifying him that our caucus will limit our involvement going forward to the public engagement process. This means that no consultations as envisioned in CASA will take place between our office and the office of the Attorney General with respect to the administration of the referendum, including respecting the complete independence of his office to draft the referendum question.
“I am deeply encouraged that the Premier has repeatedly voiced his support for proportional representation, and that his caucus recommitted in our Confidence and Supply Agreement to campaign on the yes side of this referendum. I look forward to working with the government on the campaign to engage British Columbians in this important discussion about the future of our democracy.”
· Letter to Premier Horgan
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
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