The B.C. government has introduced legislation to hold a referendum in the fall of 2018. The referendum will ask British Columbians to decide whether B.C. should keep its current voting system (first past the post) or move to a system of proportional representation. (Black Press file photo)

John Rustad weighs in on electoral reform in B.C.

“Proportional representation is not the answer,” he says

MLA for Nechako Lakes John Rustad has recently expressed strong opposition to changing the electoral system in B.C.

The B.C. government has introduced legislation to hold a referendum in the fall of 2018. The referendum will ask British Columbians to decide whether B.C. should keep its current voting system (first past the post) or move to a system of proportional representation.

Rustad says small communities would have a hard time electing representatives under a proportional representation system.

“Under proportional representation, you no longer elect an MLA, you only vote for a party,” he said. “You no longer have an MLA fighting for individuals or a riding; you can’t hold your MLA accountable for their actions.”

“Political parties will create lists of candidates,” he continued. “People get elected from those lists based on the percentage of vote that political party receives; the general public gets no say in who is on those lists or whether they would like them to be an MLA.”

“This is not an improvement on democracy,” he added. “I hope people will engage and take a serious look at proportional representation before making a decision that will leave B.C. in a vulnerable position for years to come.”

“If this [system] changes, it will change forever.”

Unlike the past two province-wide votes on the issue, this referendum is to be decided by a simple majority of all participating voters, without requiring support from a majority of constituencies.

Without regional support, the referendum will likely be decided by the southwest corner of the province, where three quarters of the population resides. Metro Vancouver alone is home to more than half of B.C.’s 4.6 million people.

Rustad says he wonders what issues the proposed electoral reform is trying to address in the first place.

“British Columbia is one of the best jurisdictions in the world,” he said. “We got some of the highest environmental standards, we’re the envy of the world economically, we’ve got a good social system, one of the best education systems in the country, and one of the best health care systems in the country. So what is it that they are trying to fix?”

Meanwhile the B.C. NDP-Green government is pressing ahead with its plan to change the voting system in time for the next provincial election. Premier John Horgan has promised that rural representation will be protected in a new system, but that has yet to be defined.

“We have deviations in our seat sizes in terms of population that are completely out of whack with other jurisdictions in Canada,” Horgan told Black Press. “So I’m not surprised that there is concern that we take every step to preserve rural representation. It’s fundamental to British Columbians, and I’m committed to make sure that happens.”

“But I’m not going to shy away from the need to change a system that fundamentally gives 100 per cent power to less than 50 per cent of the voters.”

British Columbians are being asked to complete an online questionnaire to help shape key elements of the referendum, including ballot design, choice of voting systems included, and public funding distribution during the referendum campaign period. The engagement closes Feb. 28, 2018.

To complete the online questionnaire, visit

– With files from Tom Fletcher

Just Posted

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

Houston property assessments nudge up

District now working on 2019 spending plans

Most First Nations in northern BC support LNG pipeline

Despite the headline-grabbing news coming from the Gitdumt’en anti-pipeline site, most First… Continue reading

Public skating fun

The Claude Parish Memorial Arena has lots of skating times. Free public… Continue reading

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of B.C. overpass

Dash cam footage shows vehicle speeding across Brunette Avenue overpass in Coquitlam

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Most Read