June 13, 2018 4:09 pm

Confusion growing around official B.C.’s proportional representation campaign

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The official campaign around the future of British Columbia’s electoral system is set to kick off July 1 and there are still questions about who the official proponents will be.

Later this year, voters will be asked in a two-part referendum to either vote yes on one of three systems of proportional representation (PR) or choose to keep the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system.

The provincial government has still not provided guidelines to Elections BC to choose both an official “Yes” and “No” side for the campaign.

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“The rules and application have not yet been put out,” said Bill Tieleman, who is part of a group hoping to lead the No campaign. “We were told that July 1 was the campaign start and that union and corporate donations would be stopped.”

READ MORE: BC Liberals call PR referendum a ‘rigged game’, call for more information on proposed systems

“The problem that I have is that it is now June 13 and if a campaign starts in 17 days and we don’t know if we are the proponent or not or what the application process is. That is no way to run a referendum.”

One of the recommendations made by Attorney General David Eby to cabinet was to have the “chief electoral officer select one designated group to advocate on behalf of retaining the current FPTP voting system, and one to advocate on behalf of PR.”

WATCH HERE: Electoral reform referendum question subject of fiery legislature exchange

The recommendations called for both sides to have $500,000 of provincial funding to run the campaign and could spend up to $200,000 in individual donations on top of that. Those figures have not been made official yet. Union and corporate donations would be banned.

This comes as a new anti-PR group called Fair Referendum, run by businessman Jim Shepard, has placed a front page wrap ad in The Province newspaper.

The ad reads: “Is David Eby to manipulate you?”

READ MORE: ‘Yes’ side launches proportional representation referendum campaign

The group has no spending limits because the official campaign has not started.

“What we see this day with this wrap [ad] is really revealing,” said Maria Dobrinskaya with the Vote PR BC group.

“Once the campaign is on there will be no funding from unions or corporations. What they are clearly trying to do is spend that money now. I think it raises questions of why there is so much interest from big money to maintain our current system.”

Vote PR BC will be applying to be the official pro-PR side for the referendum.

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