B.C.’s voting system will not change, Elections BC announced Thursday.
In the electoral reform referendum 61.3 per cent of voters voted to stay with B.C.’s current first-past-the-post electoral system, while 38.7 per cent of voters backed proportional representation.
A total of 1,403,358 votes were received, representing 42.6 per cent of registered voters, Elections BC said.
When the results are broken down by electoral district, it’s clear that Vancouverites and people on Vancouver Island supported proportional representation, while those in other areas of the province did not. For example, 74 per cent of ballots returned from Vancouver- Mount Pleasant were in favour of pro-rep. In the West End, 61 per cent were in favour and in Point Grey, 52 per cent were in favour. In most parts of Surrey, less than 30 per cent were in favour.
Premier John Horgan said he is disappointed in the outcome.
“Since forming government, we have been working to make life better for people,” Horgan said in a statement. “We've already banned big money and introduced tough new restrictions on lobbyists to put people back at the centre of our politics. There's a lot more work to do, and our government is going to keep working with our partners in the B.C. Green caucus to make government work for people in B.C.”
B.C.’s Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, whose party campaigned on the idea of proportional representation, was also disappointed with the outcome.
“The B.C. Greens remain committed to the principle of representative democracy,” Weaver said in a statement. “We will continue to champion policies that will strengthen B.C’s democracy and make it more responsive to and representative of the people of B.C.”
B.C.’s Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Carole James spoke publicly after the results were released and said the government will accept and respect the results. She said the people have spoken and she thinks electoral reform is finished, but the government will work to improve ways of including the public in democracy.
“I certainly was looking forward to seeing the system change. I think it would have been good for democracy,” James said at a news conference.
She said her constituents want more of a chance to have their voices heard.
“(People) like seeing politicians work across party lines and do the work on their behalf and that’s what we’re committed to as government,” James said.
When asked if she thinks the Green Party will stop supporting the NPD minority government now that the referendum is over, James said she doesn’t believe that. She said the government is strong and working well together.
The cost of the referendum is unknown, Anton Boegman, chief electoral officer for Elections BC said at a news conference.
Tracy Sherlock writes about B.C. politics for National Observer. Send your tips and ideas to [email protected].