BY BILL PHILLIPS
Premier John Horgan has voted for mixed member proportional (MMP).
The premier says he has completed his ballot in the current referendum on whether to move B.C. to a proportional representation electoral system and, him, MMP is the best option.
“I voted, of course, to support pro-rep,” he said Thursday. “And I voted to support mixed member because it is the most widely used internationally and it gives us a baseline to work from.”
British Columbians are being asked whether they want to keep the current first-past-the-post system or move to proportional representation. If so, then to choose between mixed member proportional, rural-urban split, or dual member proportional.
Those voting against changing to proportional representation because it uses lists to elect top up MLAs to create proportionality across the province. The fear is closed lists of party insiders will be used. Horgan says isn’t how he sees MMP working.
“When it comes to lists, it’s my opinion that citizens will elect all of the members of the Legislature,” he said. “They will select names that are representative of their community.”
With MMP, he said, voters will vote for one local member and one from the region.
“We’ve already made it clear, we’re not reducing the number of members,” he said. “In fact, we may have to increase them to ensure we have proportional representation. I don’t support closed lists. I support citizens voting for people and electing them to our legislature.”
Horgan dismissed suggestions that he is supporting electoral reform because it will make it easier for the NDP to form government and harder for the Liberals.
He said he voted against proportional representation in the first referendum in 2005.
“Four later later, after spending four years here as an Opposition member with no impact on government policy, not by myself but for the people who elected me, I had a second opportunity to vote in 2009 to support proportional representation and, although there was not one comma changed in the question, I supported it.”
He said he hopes a proportional representation system will lead to more collaboration among MLAs.
“I believe that more cooperation is what the public wants,” he said. “That’s why I support proportional representation. I’ve been working very cooperatively with the Green Party. Seventeen per cent of those who voted in the last election, voted for the Green Party. We’ve had disagreements, but we’re doing our best to make sure people are at the centre of what we do.”
Former NDP premier Glen Clark has voiced his support for the first-past-the-post system, but that hasn’t fazed Horgan.
“I’m not surprised Glen Clark would support first-past-the-post,” said Horgan. “He was able to form a government with just 39 per cent of the vote and that’s the very reason we need to change the system. We need to ensure every vote counts and if you get 40 per cent of the vote you get 40 per cent of the seats, not 100 per cent of the power.”