Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark takes questions in the B.C. legislature Monday. (Hansard TV)

B.C. NDP ministers defend proportional representation vote

What is urban, what is rural, how many MLAs will be appointed?

Opposition MLAs focused on the unanswered questions in B.C.’s proportional representation referendum Monday, grilling NDP government ministers on how a new system would work.

Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby took questions directed at Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark, who was featured in weekend TV reports saying she was not able to explain the three new electoral systems offered in mail-in ballots going out to more than three million households.

Questions in the legislature focused on the lack of maps and the size of multi-member constituencies that could result if voters choose to move away from the current first-past-the-post system that elects one MLA for each of B.C.’s 87 constituencies.

B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong said Abbotsford currently has three constituencies. How many will it have under proportional representation, and will they be rural or urban, he asked.

Eby fielded that and similar questions by saying the cabinet adopted the principle that no region will have its representation reduced. Electoral boundaries will be developed by an independent commission once the voters choose which system they prefer, he said.

RELATED: What you need to know about B.C.’s referendum

RELATED: Premier Horgan agrees to TV debate on referendum

De Jong compared the current referendum to a “magic metal bracelet” advertised on TV, promising to cure B.C.’s political ills without revealing how it works. He reference to the “K-Tel coalition” government drew a rebuke from Speaker Darryl Plecas.

“I don’t want to disparage K-Tel,” de Jong said. “When I bought my patty stacker at least I knew what it was and how it worked.”

Education Minister Rob Fleming reminded opposition MLAs that it was just over a year ago that they hastily rewrote their throne speech in an effort to prevent being voted out of power by the NDP and the B.C. Green Party. One of their promises was a referendum on proportional representation, which was promised by both the NDP and Greens in the 2017 election.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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