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Third Time Lucky?
British Columbians prepare to vote on electoral reform in 2018
November 19, 2017
Inroads Journal

(Word count: 2,600)

Canada’s westernmost province thinks of itself as distinct. Here you can surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon. We fell trees and produce wine. We have valleys and mountains and an ocean. But we share at least one thing with the rest of the Canadian federation: an electoral system. British Columbia uses the single-member plurality or first-past-the-post (FPTP) system to decide who will serve in the Legislative Assembly in Victoria.

At least for now. Like other Canadian provinces – Ontario in 2007, Prince Edward Island in 2005 and 2016 – B.C. has put electoral reform to the people and is going to do it again. In 2005 and 2009, the province asked its citizens if they wanted to switch from FPTP to a proportional electoral system, specifically the made-in-B.C. version of the single transferable vote (BC-STV).1 Each time, voters said “No thank you.” Sort of. In 2005, nearly 58 per cent of voters chose Yes, but the final tally of affirmative votes came shy of the 60 per cent adoption threshold set by the provincial government. In 2009, STV was decisively rejected, receiving a meagre 39 per cent support.2

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