61 per cent vote to keep current first-past-the-post system in B.C.

THE No BC Proportional Representation Society – the official opponent group in the BC electoral systems referendum – was elated at the voters’ decision announced on Thursday to retain First Past The Post – the third time in 13 years as 61.3% of valid returns voted to keep the current First Past the Post system. 42.6% of registered voters in BC returned their ballots.

“We thank the hundreds of thousands of voters who supported First Past The Post and the thousands of volunteers and donors who backed our strong campaign,” said Society President Bill Tieleman, a veteran New Democrat who led opposition in both previous referenda. “This was a non-partisan campaign that brought together people from all political persuasions and those with none at all.”

Society Vice-President Suzanne Anton, a former BC Liberal Attorney General, said the campaign win came with support right across the province and from all communities.

“We want to particularly thank our very active Chinese language volunteer campaign and our Indo-Canadian volunteer campaign, who worked tremendously hard to get our message out in all languages and parts of BC,” Anton said. “And our success shows that politicians should not make this a partisan issue but leave it in the hands of citizens, where it should be.”

Andrew Wilksinson, Leader of the Official Opposition, said in a statement: “Today we saw the power of democracy as millions of British Columbians sent a clear message to the NDP and Greens that their self-serving referendum was not going to be tolerated.

“This was a flawed process from the beginning as the NDP stacked the deck to satisfy the Green Party and remain in power. This was never been about improving our democracy, it was always about power and control.

“However, to all the British Columbians who voted for a change believing that we need to improve our democracy, we can assure them that they have been heard.”

He added: “The rejection of Proportional Representation by the people of British Columbia demonstrates a clear desire to keep political power in the hands of voters.”

Premier John Horgan said in a statement: “British Columbians have now spoken and chosen to stick with the current voting system. This referendum was held because we believe that this decision needed to be up to people, not politicians. While many people, myself included, are disappointed in the outcome, we respect people’s decision.

“British Columbians are passionate about our democracy. I want to thank everyone who turned out to vote in such strong numbers and express my gratitude to Elections BC for its work running a fair referendum that engaged people throughout B.C.”

Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party, said i n a statement: “We campaigned on proportional representation because representative democracy is one of the 6 core principles of the B.C. Green Party.

“While we are disappointed with this result, we respect British Columbians’ decision to retain the current First Past the Post system.

“I thank Elections BC for their work administering this referendum. They provided British Columbians with clear, impartial information and accessible opportunities to vote.

“Over the course of the referendum, I had the opportunity to speak with countless British Columbians about their democracy. I was inspired to meet so many citizens who care deeply about modernizing our system of governance so it better reflects the will of the people. I thank everyone who volunteered, voted and worked on the campaign.”