Campaigning begins for B.C. referendum on electoral reform

Let the campaigning begin.

The campaign period for British Columbia’s second referendum on electoral reform kicked off yesterday (February 1).

Today (February 2), the province officially opened its Referendum Information Office, which will offer citizens “neutral information” on the upcoming vote, according to a government press release.

During the general election on May 12, voters will choose between keeping the current first-past-the-post system or switching to a single-transferable-vote system.

The provincial government is giving $500,000 to two groups, British Columbians for BC-STV (aka Fair Voting B.C.) and No STV, which will run the official “yes” and “no” campaigns.

According to the British Columbians for BC-STV Web site, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, Senator Larry Campbell, B.C. Green leader Jane Sterk, environmentalist David Suzuki, and former Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm are among those who have endorsed the BC-STV system.

No STV’s president is Bill Tieleman, who was former NDP premier Glen Clark’s communications director. Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer and former Social Credit environment minister Bruce Strachan are among the group’s directors.

Created by the province in 2003, the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform recommended BC-STV, a form of single-transferable-vote system, in 2004.

In the 2005 election, 57.69 percent of voters chose BC-STV—not enough to meet the required threshold of 60-percent support provincewide.

Later that year, the government promised to hold a second referendum on BC-STV.