Pro-rep yelling match a disgraceful show

John Horgan was right.

People were probably switching over the Wheel of Fortune in droves last night as the premier and Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson squared off in a television debate/yelling match over the proportional representation referendum.

The two showed exactly why our political system has to change. That’s not to say proportional representation will fix what’s wrong, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Horgan and Wilkinson continually talked over each other prompting Horgan to quip a couple of times that people were likely tuning out. He was right. I felt like changing the channel and I watch politics all the time.

But I soldiered on and watched the whole thing (the second half was a little better).

Filtering out the bickering, there were some notable comments … not all good, but notable just the same.

The evening started out with a short explanation, from the hosts, about how the three voting systems work.

Wilkinson’s first, and almost only, question to Horgan? Can you explain how the three voting systems work? Horgan initially said the organizers had already explained it well, and better, than he. But Wilkinson asked the question probably another half-dozen times.

Horgan, or likely his strategists, decided he wasn’t going to go down that road so he never did answer the question, instead opting to give high-level dissertations about pro-rep. Answering the question would have been nice.

Although it likely wouldn’t have mattered to Wilkinson. Even when he got Horgan to answer a question, he said it didn’t believe it and continually tried to insinuate that Horgan and the NDP have some sort of hidden agenda.

For example, Wilkinson pressed Horgan on how many MLAs there will be and what the riding boundaries will be. Horgan reiterated what the government has already stated, that the independent B.C. Electoral Commission will make those determinations. And, of course, those boundaries will be different depending on which system is chosen.

Wilkinson, however, flatly dismissed the answer he was given and then kept asking the same question. Hoping for a different answer? Nope, keep asking it so he can answer it with the spin he wanted to put on it.

Once again, if this is the level at which our government operates, it won’t matter which electoral system we have, we’re doomed.

Wilkinson also seemed to suggest that Liberal government would revisit proportional representation if elected. He said the Liberals would (not did) create a Citizen’s Assembly and that they would (not did) put forward a clear referendum question. Hmmm? No. 4?

Then Wilkinson dipped into the bizarre.

He suggested a couple of times that pro-rep would automatically “trash” five per cent of the vote. I’ve looked at all the systems more than once and it was news to me. Then he divulged his reasoning: Parties will have to garner at least five per cent of the vote to be eligible for proportional representation seats. Under Wilkinson’s convoluted reasoning, that means five per cent of the vote is “trashed.” That’s just so wrong defies comment. It’s hard to comprehend that a political leader with aspirations to be premier would spout such drivel.

Good grief, we’re more than doomed.

In the end, the debate was really a waste of time. It provided no real information. Wheel of Fortune was indeed a better option (it’s a good thing the Canucks were on at 4 p.m. otherwise there would have been no choice).

I do have one question. Why wasn’t Green Party leader Andrew Weaver invited?