B.C. premier opposed to closed lists in selecting MLAs under proportional systems

Click to play video: 'Focus BC: November 2, 2018'
Focus BC: November 2, 2018
WATCH: MLA Bowinn Ma and 'No PR' spokesperson Bill Tieleman debate B.C.'s referendum on electoral reform – Nov 2, 2018

B.C. Premier John Horgan says he is opposed to using closed lists when selecting MLAs if British Columbia goes to a proportional voting system.

The province is in the midst of a electoral reform referendum where the public is being asked to weigh in on keeping the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system or moving to a system of proportional representation (PR).

In one of the three possible proportional system, mixed member proportional (MMP), up to 40 per cent of the MLAs elected will be chosen from a party list rather than being directly chosen by voters.

Some countries use lists where the order of candidates is known or chosen by the public and others used closed lists where the order is unknown.

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“When it comes to lists, it is my opinion that citizens will elect all of the members of the legislature. They will select names that are representative of their communities,” said Horgan.

“I don’t support closed lists. I support citizens voting for people that represent them in the legislature.”

British Columbia will change the electoral system if 50 per cent plus one of people decide they want a change. The first elections under proportional representation could be no earlier than July 1, 2021.

WATCH HERE: What you need to know before casting your electoral reform ballot

Click to play video: 'What you need to know before casting your electoral reform ballot'
What you need to know before casting your electoral reform ballot

Of the three proportional systems being proposed MMP is the most common, with four countries using it including Germany and New Zealand.

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Horgan told reporters this week that he has already cast his ballot for the system.

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“I voted for mixed member because it is the most used internationally and gives us a baseline to work from,” said Horgan.

Horgan is set to square off against BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson in a debate televised on Global BC on Nov. 8.

NDP MLA Bowinn Ma and No side representative Bill Tieleman debated the issue Friday on Global News’ Focus BC.

Ballots must be returned to Elections BC by 4:30 p.m. on November 30.

When asked about why she was in favour of PR, Ma said any of three proposed systems would provide a better reflection in the legislature of all votes cast.

“I believe in the promise of democracy. I believe all voices matter. I believe all votes should count towards the end result of an election,” said Ma.

“It means legislatures and government are much more reflective of the diversity of political opinions that exist in the province.”

WATCH HERE: Confusion surrounds electoral reform ballots that have begun arriving at B.C. homes

Click to play video: 'Confusion surrounds electoral reform ballots that have begun arriving at B.C. homes'
Confusion surrounds electoral reform ballots that have begun arriving at B.C. homes

But when asked to explain the confusion over the three different proportional options on the ballot, Ma said that decision is less important than the overall issue of changing the voting system.

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“You don’t have to answer question two,” said Ma. “The fundamental question is question one.”

The NDP has also passed legislation that would mandate a second referendum after two elections under PR, if the system changes.

But Tieleman said even though there is a potential safety net, there are far too many unknowns for voters to feel comfortable changing the electoral system.

“We don’t know how many regions there would be, we don’t know the size of the ridings, we just know they would be bigger,” said Tieleman.

“The fact we have two out of the three system that have never been used in the world, it kind of makes it difficult in terms of what will happen here.”

You can find out more about the referendum from Elections BC here.

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