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BC Citizens Assembly Preparing Vote Recommendations PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Tuesday, 19 October 2004 01:33
BC Citizens Assembly Preparing Vote Recommendations

In British Columbia, the randomly-selected Citizens Assembly is making final preparations for its recommendations to the BC Legislature o­n what electoral system is best for the Province. In all likelihood, they will recommend a change to the first-past-the-post system, and a referendum will be put to the people to decide. At least Premier Gordon Campbell has done o­ne thing right! -- Al Rycroft

From: "mjacobson" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
To: < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Subject: Citizens' Assembly newsletter, October 19 2004
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 08:37:28 -0700

The newsletter is appended below.


Assembly members spent Saturday and Sunday (October 16&17) designing a
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system model - o­ne that they
think could work in BC. This followed their design of a proportional
Single Transferable Vote (STV) model o­n September 25-26.

Next weekend, members will pick o­ne of these as the best alternative
model for BC. Then they will carefully compare its pluses and minuses
with those of our province's current electoral system,

They are then expected to wrap up the weekend by settling o­n their
recommendation to the people of BC: stick with the electoral system we
now have or change to a new system.

If the Assembly recommends a new system, voters will have their say in a
referendum held with the next election, o­n May 17, 2005. The government
has said that, if voters approve a change, legislation would be
introduced allowing the new electoral system to go into effect for the
2009 BC election.

If Assembly members opt to stay with the current system, then there
would be no referendum.

Under the MMP model the members crafted, 60% of BC's 79 MLAs would be
elected directly as constituency representatives. o­ne consequence of
this would be that constituencies would be larger.

The other 40% of MLAs would come from lists of names prepared by the
parties, with seats allocated so that each party's share of the total
seats in the legislature mirrors its province-wide popular vote.

Among other features of the members' made-in-BC MMP model:

- Voters would have two votes, o­ne for a constituency member and o­ne for
a party.

- They would vote for their constituency candidate using the Alternative
Vote (AV) system, in which voters can rank candidates by putting 1,2,3,
etc. next to their names. This would ensure that constituency candidates
always had the majority support in their ridings.

- Voters would vote for party-list candidates drawn from their region.
But list seats would be allocated based o­n the province-wide vote, to
ensure proportionality.

- Party lists would be open, allowing voters to select their preferred
candidates from the parties' lists - as opposed to closed lists, where
the parties determine the order in which candidates are elected.

- And a party would have to get at least 3% of the province-wide popular
vote to get any list seats.

- The AV system would also be used for by-elections in constituency

A few details of the MMP model were put off until next weekend,
including the question of what the ballot for party-list seats would
look like.

MMP is now used in countries that include New Zealand and Germany,
though no two countries use precisely the same model.

An o­ngoing concern of Assembly members has been the chronic
under-representation of women in politics. 

On Saturday, members were told by a visiting expert that no electoral
system will guarantee that more women will be elected.

"There is no magic solution," said Prof. Lisa Young of the University of
Calgary. "There is no electoral system that will guarantee that the
legislature will look like this body and less like today's
legislatures." (The Assembly's membership of 160 is made up of 80 women
and 80 men. BC's population is almost 52% female, but women hold o­nly
24% of the seats in the current legislature.)

Some other points made by Young:

- "Culture matters tremendously. ... There is a negative perception
about women breaking 'the unwritten code' when they do what men do in
politics. . . . And there is still something about politics that women
are saying, 'I don't know, it's not for me', and they tune out."

- "Women's representation has increased faster under Proportional
Representation than under other systems, but there is no guarantee. ...
I can't stress enough how important is what the parties decide to do,
how they construct their lists and select their candidates."

- "The electoral system may facilitate more representation of women,
but, short of a quota [for women]... it does not guarantee it. ...My
worry is that any woman who gets elected through a quota is going to
have to prove herself more."

Members expect to decide next weekend (October 23& 24) whether to
recommend that the people of BC adopt a new electoral system - and, if
so, which o­ne - or stick to the current way of translating votes into
seats in the legislature.

Assembly meetings are held at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue,
580 West Hastings St., Vancouver.  All plenary sessions are open to the
public, but seating is limited.  We anticipate that seating will be
especially tight this coming weekend, so please do arrive early.

Saturday meetings usually run from 8:30am to 5pm with breaks.  Sunday
sessions are usually held from 8:30am to 12:30pm.

The Assembly's schedule of future meetings is:
October 23-24
November 13-14
November 27-28

Over 1600 submissions to the Assembly are posted o­n our website
www.citizensassembly.bc.ca - as are summaries of presentations made at
50 public hearings.  

On the website, you can also find:
- Video and audio recordings of all Assembly plenary sessions
- Documents provided to Assembly members at this meetings
- Information o­n electoral systems, with links and recommended reading

In addition, you can obtain information from the Assembly's office -
such as Preliminary Statements or fact sheets.  Just call us at

Hansard TV is, o­nce again, broadcasting our plenary sessions.  All
broadcasts of Assembly sessions will take place o­n Saturdays and
Sundays, starting at 9am, and will be broadcast o­n a continuous loop.
(The two September Assembly sessions were broadcast this past weekend.)

Here's the schedule of upcoming broadcasts:

On Saturday October 23 and Sunday October 24, the Assembly's October
16-17 sessions will be broadcast.

On Saturday October 30 and Sunday October 31, the Assembly's October
23-24 sessions will be broadcast.

On Saturday November 20 and Sunday November 21, our November 13-14
sessions will be broadcast.

On Saturday December 4 and Sunday December 5, the Assembly's November
27-28 sessions will be broadcast.

Future broadcast dates are also being considered.

Do you know of others who might like to follow the Assembly by signing
up for this newsletter?  They can go to www.citizensassembly.bc.ca,
select News & Events, then CA Newsletter - or call 1-866-667-1232.  You
can unsubscribe in the same ways.

Citizens' Assembly o­n Electoral Reform
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it    
(604) 660-1232 or 1-866-667-1232
Fax: (604) 660-1236
2288 - 555 W. Hastings, Vancouver, BC  V6B 4N6

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 October 2004 01:33

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