Government takes action to modernize democracy

The Government of British Columbia is taking action to modernize democratic institutions and make government work for people.

Two pieces of legislation were introduced today, including a bill to allow a referendum on electoral reform before the end of November 2018. The referendum is a prominent component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. Green Party Caucus.

“Today we have taken the first step toward asking British Columbians if they want a change from the current voting system,” said Attorney General David Eby. “We are taking steps to modernize our democracy today, while giving people the power to decide the future of our most fundamental democratic institution.”

The Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act sets out the terms for a provincewide referendum on proportional representation. Government will promote active debate and discussion by providing information about electoral systems to voters through public engagement in the months ahead. All British Columbians will be encouraged to engage in this process, including political parties, organizations and individuals. The legislation allows voters in the referendum to submit their ballot by mail to the chief electoral officer. If the referendum passes, the new system would be enacted before the next provincial election, scheduled for 2021.

Government has also introduced legislation to amend the Constitution Act to reduce the number of seats required for recognized political party status from four to two; to change the fixed date election to a Saturday in October; and to strengthen the institutional stability of government in the event, for example, of a natural disaster.

“These changes are aimed to bring B.C.’s democratic institutions into the 21st century, and to lay the groundwork for a referendum, where British Columbians will decide whether to change our electoral system,” Eby said.

The following two backgrounders are available at our BC Government News site:

Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act
Constitution Act