John Horgan is sworn in as B.C.’s new premier along with the NDP cabinet at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

B.C. VIEWS: John Horgan on election reform

NDP joins Greens in bid for proportional representation

Black Press legislative columnist Tom Fletcher sat down with Premier John Horgan to talk about his plans for 2018. Video of the interview is below, with a transcript of the premier’s comments on the pending referendum on electoral reform.

TF: You’re going to have a referendum on our voting system next year. You’ve said there is going to be a clear two-part question, do voters want to change or don’t they, and the second part is still being worked out. Is that accurate?

JH: That’s pretty close to what I expect will come back from the consultation. I think it’s important that we ask the public if they want to change from what we’ve got now, and once that’s established then what are the alternatives.

This will be the third referendum on these questions in a little under 15 years, so I don’t think we have too many more opportunities to put this to the public. So we want to make sure we get it right.

TF: This was a hot topic in the legislature, suggestions that it’s being arranged for your political advantage, or the B.C. Green Party’s political advantage. Can you respond to that?

JH: It certainly is not my intention to stack the deck in any way. This is something I’ve become increasingly passionate about. I voted against electoral reform in 2005 because I was uncomfortable. I understood the first-past-the-post system. It’s what I grew up with.

But after spending four years as an opposition member, having no influence at all in government, effectively shutting out my constituents from having a say, I changed my view, and felt that we needed to find a better way to reflect the diversity in our communities.

In my mind, it’s not about the NDP, the Greens, the Liberals, the Conservatives, it’s about people electing a representative. What we’ve got now is the first minority parliament in 50 years, and we have to work together, and put aside our partisan issues to the greatest extent possible.

I’ve been trying to do that, but you’ve been covering this place for a long time. It’s a partisan place. And we’re trying to dial that down, but sometimes it rears its ugly head. And I think that as we go forward with the referendum and the question, I’m going to be as transparent as possible, making sure this is about how people elect someone, not how we elect more of one or the other.

TF: You’ve said there will be protection for sparsely populated rural regions. How might that work?

JH: We’re going to have to come to a conclusion on that. I’ve heard clearly from rural MLAs in both the B.C. Liberal and NDP caucuses that their constituents are concerned they will somehow lose their ability to affect change within a sea of residents in southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

We have to remember that our current system, if it were challenged in court, might be thrown out anyway. There is supposed to be only a 25-per-cent deviation between the smallest constituency and the largest. We have more than half a dozen that have very few constituents than you would have in Vancouver or Richmond or Surrey. So we have to find a balance regardless of whether it’s proportional representation or first past the post. But I absolutely hear the voices of people in rural B.C. that they don’t want to be left out of the political process.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

STORY, PHOTOS & VIDEO: Brand new wrestling mats on display at Charles Hays

Team no longer has to grapple with hard surfacing and soreness thanks to generous donations

Immediate deal to reinstate AMHS in Prince Rupert not out of the question: Mayor Brain

B.C., Alaska officials fail to sign ferry deal in Juneau to reinstate service from Ketchikan

B.C., Alaska officials fail to reach ferry deal

Alaska Marine Highway System ferry service to Prince Rupert is scheduled to end Sept. 30

‘It affects everybody:’ Trudeau’s brownface photos worry Wet’suwet’en chief

Skeena-Bulkley Valley Liberal candidate declines to comment on prime minister’s indiscretion

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Ombusman’s specific concerns re-surface in wake of bus crash that killed two students

Photos surface of Conservative candidate at B.C. event with people in blackface

The controversial “Black Peter” character has been a feature at Sinterklaas celebrations

Most Read