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Citizens' Assembly in Action

What was the Citizens' Assembly?

The Citizens’ Assembly was 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 all British Columbians. Members were picked by random draw from a pool that reflected the gender, age and geographical make-up of British Columbia. Assembly chair Jack Blaney 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. 

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