Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Electoral Reform on Hold?

A few weeks back I commented upon the Electoral Boundaries Commission Report recommending a major revamp of the electoral boundaries in British Columbia to better assure the 'one person one vote' principle and to ensure better representation of the growing urban areas of British Columbia. On September 13, 2007, the Premier's Office announced that it was pre-empting this reform process by introducing new legislation that would protect existing rural ridings. The Premier's press release said:

“Since the commission released its initial report on Aug. 15, 2007, we have heard clearly from British Columbians that reducing rural British Columbians’ representation in government is unacceptable,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. “We are committed to protecting the number of electoral districts in rural British Columbia. At the same time, the commission clearly identified growing regions of the province where more representation is needed. We will set broader guidelines under the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act to give the commission the flexibility necessary to adjust electoral boundaries and ensure fair and equal representation for all regions of the province.”

If truthfull, the new legislation could achieve the goal of actually standing up for democracy and advancing the one person/one vote principle. If new seats are added to the legislature in sufficient numbers and concentrated in the new urban areas of British Columbia, the same effect will be created, albeit at a significantly higher cost (particular with MLA's recent pay raises). I fear though that given the Premier's last bad experience with electoral reform of this nature, and his recognition that the coastal urban areas are not his party's stronghold, we will see something quite different.

My money is on rural seats being protected and the number of seats in the conservative interior growth areas being increased to recognize their population growth and correct politics. This will be a strong affirmation of the principle of one liberal/one vote -- one non-liberal/0.75 votes.

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