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News release

10th December, 2003 : Vancouver (Internal)
Citizens' Assembly request approved

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform will increase its membership to 160 to ensure representation of British Columbians of Aboriginal ancestry.

Citizens’ Assembly Chair, Dr. Jack Blaney, requested and received approval this morning at an open Cabinet meeting in Victoria to select randomly two additional members for the Assembly. The government will amend the original Order-in-Council to allow for the additional members.

The Citizens’ Assembly is writing to all those who were invited, through random selection, to a Citizens’ Assembly member selection meeting – and who said they were both interested and eligible to serve as members – but who were not selected. The letter asks those who are Aboriginal and who remain interested in membership to call the Assembly office by December 18th.

The names of all those who respond confirming their Aboriginal ancestry, eligibility and interest will be placed in a "hat" and two names will be drawn on December 22nd.

"This is important to both the success and credibility of the Citizens’ Assembly," says Blaney. "The 158 members we have selected are generally representative of the citizens of B.C. However, Assembly membership, as it stands, does not fairly represent our traditional Aboriginal communities."

A telephone survey of members conducted by Assembly staff found one member who had recently discovered her Métis roots. "However, our Aboriginal community, with whom British Columbians are now engaged in building new partnerships, requires a stronger representation in the Assembly," says Blaney.

"The Citizens’ Assembly is a bold and important venture in citizen participation and must be seen as credible, fair, and working in good faith. Clear representation of our traditional Aboriginal communities is fundamental to this credibility."

A number of British Columbians of Aboriginal ancestry attended selection meetings, confirmed their interest and eligibility, "placed their names in the hat," but were not drawn for membership. Blaney urges these individuals to consider carefully the letter they will be receiving and accept this unique opportunity to serve our province.

"We want your voices to be included in our discussions and deliberation," states Blaney.

The Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform is an independent, non-partisan group of British Columbians randomly selected from communities around the province to review the way we elect our provincial political representatives.  This process is unique in Canadian history; never has such a representative group of citizens played such a vital role in shaping the electoral process. 
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