26 November 2008

To BC Liberals: Free up rules on PR referendum

How convenient that current BC election legislation prohibits political parties from advertising or promoting their support for BC-STV in the May 12, 2009 referendum on electoral reform!

While candidates can voice support for a 'yes' vote, they may not advertise that position.

Penalties for breaking the regulation are a fine of up to $10,000 and up to a year in jail...

University of Victoria political science professor Dennis Pilon, who last year published a book on electoral reform, said the Liberals want to see electoral reform defeated in the May 12 referendum and have realized the Greens will likely campaign vigorously for a win.

“This is a typical kind of dirty pool,” said Pilon, adding that Ontario had a similar prohibition in place for its recent referendum on electoral reform. “It's a referendum on democracy and they want to limit people's democratic rights.”

A spokesperson for the ministry of the Attorney General, Shawn Robins, said the government is working with Neufeld and Elections B.C.. "The intent is not to silence political parties on their views on STV," he said. "At this point in time we're just getting to the finer details of what they might be allowed . . . It's a fine line we're trying to clarify with Elections B.C."

Stewart said Elections B.C. is getting an independent legal opinion on the issue before responding to the Attorney General. It will then be up to the government to decide what to do. "They have the authority to amend the regulation."

Ha ha ha! Yes, they do. In fact, they've the authority to implement BC-STV NOW, rather than making British Columbians vote all over again and adding a whopping bill for running an unnecessary referendum.

In 2005, we voted in favour of BC-STV by a majority of 58% and in 77 of the 79 BC ridings. The 60% threshold imposed by the BC Liberal government - and supported by that other party which regularly obtains false majorities on the basis of less than 40% of the popular vote, the NDP - is an insult to British Columbians.

Nothing prevents the BC government from directing Elections BC to bring in the new system now. Nothing, that is, except the Liberals' and NDP's own self-interested positioning against this reform.

NB: Wrote to the BC-NDP on November 19th, asking what their position is on BC-STV. No reply to date. Since not a single email I've sent to them has ever received a reply, the non-response isn't itself news. What would be news is if I not only got a response, but one before February 1st, 2009. Have just send the BC-NDP a reminder that I'm still waiting.

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