What was the Citizens' Assembly?
created by the Government of British Columbia with the unanimous
support of the B.C. Legislature. It was an independent,
non-partisan assembly of citizens
who examined the province’s electoral system
— that is, how our votes determine who gets elected to
sit in the provincial Legislature.
The Citizens’ Assembly had 160 members, one man and
one woman from each of B.C's 79 provincial electoral districts
(constituencies) plus two Aboriginal members. They were
representative of the province as a whole, and worked for
British Columbians. Members were picked by random draw
pool that reflected the gender, age and geographical make-up of
British Columbia. Assembly chair Jack
was also an
additional member, the 161st.
The initiative was unique. Nowhere else in the world had such
power been handed to randomly selected citizens.
What did the Assembly do?
The members spent 11 months in 2004 studying
electoral systems in use around the world, holding public hearings,
accepting public submissions, and finally reaching a decision. That
was to recommend a new electoral system: BC-STV
Their recommendation will be put to the voters in British
Columbia as a referendum question at the next provincial election,
on May 17, 2005.
To pass, the referendum would have to be approved by
60% of all voters, and by a simple majority of voters in 60% of the
79 electoral districts. If the voters endorse a
new system, the government has indicated
it will be in place for the following provincial
election, in 2009.
For the Assembly members, 2004 was divided into three
phases: From January-March, they learned about electoral systems.
In May and June, they held public hearings throughout B.C., for
members to hear diverse public views. From September-November,
members met to decide if they believed B.C. should have a new
electoral system, or retain the current one.
Their final report
was submitted to
the people of B.C. and the government on 10 December 2004. Then the
Assembly and its staff disbanded.
The voters list
Are you on the B.C. voters list? You can register,
or change your address, at ElectionsBC.