File photo/Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

75% of voters in Cariboo North chose first-past-the-post system

While 61% of participating voters province-wide chose to keep current election system

The B.C. government’s options for proportional representation have been rejected by voters in a mail-in referendum.

Just over 61 per cent of participating voters opted to stay with the first-past-the-post system, Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman reported Thursday.

In the Cariboo North electoral district, just over 75 per cent of voters chose first-past-the-post.

In total, 8,582 people from Cariboo North submitted their ballots. There are 19,949 eligible voters in the riding, making the turnout for Cariboo North – 43 per cent – consistent with the province’s 42.6 per cent turnout.

The referendum offered a choice between the traditional first-past-the-post voting system, essentially a separate election for each of B.C.’s 87 provincial seats, and three variations on proportional representation to make the number of seats match more closely with the party’s share of the province-wide vote.

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes said the results are a decisive recognition of the concerns people had about changing first-past-the-post.

“I’ve certainly heard from lots of people who were supporting first-past-the-post. There was huge nervousness about a change in rural British Columbia. Our ridings are already geographically so challenged by the size of them that looking at these mega ridings did create a lot of concern,” she told the Observer.

“I think first-past-the-post, while it’s not a perfect system, it is about accountability and it’s about making sure you know who your MLA is,” she continued.

Oakes pointed out that the numbers voting for change in urban B.C. were perhaps not as high as expected.

“Sometimes we focus a lot on rural/urban divide. I think today what I see is a fact that a lot of urban British Columbians recognized concerns that rural voters had about the system, and they reflected it in the vote.”

Oakes believes much analysis will be conducted of the referendum process. She and the B.C. Liberals have criticized the current government for a lack of clear information on the options for proportional representation.

“This was a close to $15 million budget for this process. That’s a huge amount of money for taxpayers. … I’m confident the NDPs and the Greens will be evaluating how effective their process was, and I think there will be some pretty unhappy people because of some of the flaws. They were pretty self-serving through this process and I think the voters rejected it in a very high number. By going out to voters and saying, ‘Just trust us, we’ll figure it out in a back room’ … I think [the referendum result] was a clear rejection, and that people expect transparency from their government.”

READ MORE: MLA urges locals to seek out missing referendum ballots; get educated

Opposition critics blasted the NDP for giving Attorney General David Eby the task of developing the options, rather than a citizens’ assembly as was the case with referenda in 2005 and 2009 that offered a single transferable ballot system and were defeated.

This referendum also differed from earlier ones by having no minimum turnout and no regional weighting to ensure that urban areas in the southwest didn’t decide the issue.

Premier John Horgan promoted B.C.’s electoral reform options as a way to improve voter participation. In a year-end interview with Black Press, Horgan said the referendum turnout of just over 40 per cent is a valid response to a proposal to change the system for at least the next two provincial elections.

“Democracy is about showing up,” Horgan said. “I’m pleased that we got 41-42 per cent voter turnout for a mid-term mail-in referendum.”

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver wanted the province to legislate a change without a referendum. B.C. Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson has attacked the referendum, saying it was concocted by the NDP government and leaves too many questions unanswered until after the result is known.

“I campaigned to have a referendum,” Horgan said. “My Green colleagues preferred to just implement proportional representation. I wasn’t prepared to do that, and I have every confidence in the wisdom of B.C. voters and will live by the decision that they send us.”

READ MORE: B.C. referendum rejects proportional representation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo Regional District Area A Director Mary Sjostrom, School District 28 board chair Dave Chapman and Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson plant ceremonial shovels into the ground at what will become Quesnel’s newest school during a ceremony Tuesday, Oct. 20. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Construction begins on new Quesnel Junior School

A groundbreaking ceremony was held to kick off the two-year project

B.C. Conservative Leader Trevor Bolin and Cariboo North candidate Kyle Townsend were practising proper physical distancing during a campaign stop in Quesnel on Saturday, Oct. 17. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Bolin first party leader to visit Quesnel

The B.C. Conservative Pary’s leader made the stop to support Kyle Townsend

Seasons House provides shelter and services to people in Quesnel who are experiencing homelessness, and they’ll be able to do a little more in November once a toque and toiletry drive organized by the Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre wraps up. (File Photo)
Quesnel toque and toiletry drive runs until Oct. 30

The Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre is collecting items for Seasons House

Workers from the Quesnel Child and Youth Support Society prepare Christmas hampers in 2019. The society was one of seven recipients of funding in the first round of the Emergency Community Support Fund. The Quesnel Community Foundation is now accepting donations for the second round of funding and is urging local groups to apply before Oct. 30. (Facebook)
Quesnel Community Foundation urges area groups to apply for COVID-19 relief funding

The deadline to apply for Round 2 of the Emergency Community Support Fund is Oct. 30

The best photo of the Fraser River Walking Bridge taken on Oct. 23 or 24 will be rewarded with a donation to the Polio Plus Fund on behalf of the Rotary Club of Quesnel. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel’s footbridge set for scarlet spotlight

The Fraser River Footbridge will be bathed in red light to mark World Polio Day Oct. 23 and 24

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read