Online voting proposed during first candidates forum of B.C. Liberal leadership race
B.C. Liberal leadership candidates shared a stage in downtown Vancouver Wednesday evening as part of the first forum of the provincial race.
The event, which was hosted by new organization Build 2030 and targeted at a young, under-40 crowd, included four-minute speeches from five of the six Liberal leadership candidates, Christy Clark, Ed Mayne, Moira Stilwell, Mike de Jong and Kevin Falcon.
George Abbott was travelling to the B.C. natural resource forum in Prince George, and sent Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg to deliver a statement in his place.
Former Liberal cabinet minister Christy Clark used the forum to propose that online voting be considered for provincial elections as a method of increasing voter participation.
“I think it’s one of the things that we should be thinking about if we want to engage a new generation of British Columbians,” Clark said.
“The public is increasingly disengaged from government, and it’s no secret that younger people are disengaged from government,” she said, noting that in the last provincial election, less than 50 percent of eligible voters participated.
She added that an online voting system would have to be secure.
She also praised current premier Gordon Campbell in her speech.
“He has built in a new kind of optimism in British Columbia that I think we really deserve to be able to feel,” she said.
Ed Mayne, who stepped down as mayor of Parksville to run for the leadership, said he would allow free votes in the legislature on everything but confidence issues and limit premiers to two terms in office.
He also highlighted his background as a businessman and said he supports the HST.
Physician and Liberal MLA Moira Stilwell’s speech focused on what she sees as a need for a “new tone and tenor” for government.
“The way we work together to serve British Columbians will be as important as the new services and programs that you, your families and communities need and deserve,” she said.
Former attorney-general Mike de Jong delivered an energetic speech to the crowd of about 1,000 people, calling on audience members to join the Liberal party and take part in the vote.
He also criticized NDP leadership contenders, and held up the B.C. Liberal membership booklet, calling it an instrument in the "battle" against the NDP.
Former health minister Kevin Falcon spoke to the crowd about creating economic opportunity in Asia.
“I want to make sure that British Columbia hooks itself onto the fastest growing part of this world,” he said.
After the event, both Falcon and De Jong told reporters they support the idea of online voting during provincial elections.
“I want to make sure that we can properly consult and make sure that we involve the technology industry in a way that can give assurance to the public and the parties that it’s not a system that could be played with or manipulated,” said Falcon.
Earlier in the day, Falcon received a leadership endorsement from former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell.
On January 18, the Chamber of Commerce will host a panel discussion with the six Liberal leadership candidates.
B.C. Liberal members will vote on a new leader on February 26.