Horgan, Wilkinson will debate merits of different systems

Ben Ronald / November 8, 2018

BC Government and Opposition leaders will face-off in a televised debate about the Electoral Reform Referendum.
(@jjhorgan & @Wilkinson4BC / Twitter)

British Columbians will get an opportunity to see what leaders of the two major provincial political parties think about electoral reform.

Premier John Horgan and BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson will square off in a televised debate to give voters a chance to hear the pros and cons of changing to a proportional representation system.

The governing NDP initiated the referendum based on a campaign promise to do so. They’ve come out in support of moving towards one of the three proportional representation options available, while the opposition Liberals are in favour of sticking with the first past the post system.

Experts often point to two realities of moving to a proportional system: it gives electors more choice, which can lead to higher voter turnout; and it leads to minority parties in parliament, creating coalition governments that can slow down legislation.

“When people have more choice and people can identify with a party and know that party actually might have a shot and not feel like they’re wasting their vote .” – Megan Dias, M.A. Comparative Politics & Electoral Reform

Given the complexity of the choices ahead, debates can help explain the nuances between the options on the ballot.

The BCIT Student Association is hosting a debate of its own, featuring Liberal MLA, and former Mayor of Vancouver, Sam Sullivan and BC NDP MLA Janet Routeledge.

Debate organizer Christian Colquhoun hopes that the debate will help inform students by cutting through targeted advertisements that have reached electors throughout the campaign.

“The majority of information (about electoral reform) comes from the ads posted on Facebook and Instagram. (…) Very few people in the province understand the electoral reform at a level to which they can make an informed vote.” – Christian Colquhoun, VP External Affairs BCITSA

This week, Elections BC reported having received just over 30,000 responses to the 3.3 million voting packages that were mailed out since the start of the campaign.

Eligible voters will have to send in their completed voting packages by November 30th at 4:30pm in order to be counted towards the referendum.

Tonight’s televised debate starts at 7pm, and BCIT’s debate will go Friday at 2:00pm

With files from Daniel Mountain