Plenary presenters picked
A special selection committee of Citizens' Assembly members has
determined which presenters from public hearings held in May and
June will be heard by the entire Assembly on Saturday September 11
– the first day of the Assembly's fall "deliberation
The committee's selections were based on criteria established by
the Assembly back in February. The key ones were quality of public
hearing presentation and relevance to the Assembly's mandate.
By consensus, the committee selected nine presenters:
of Vancouver, who made a presentation in
Vancouver June 12, calling for an Alternative Vote (AV) system. On
AV ballots, voters rank candidates in numerical order of
preference. If no candidate gains a majority on the first count,
the second preferences listed on the ballots of the least
successful candidate are distributed among the remaining
candidates. This process continues until one candidate has a
majority. British Columbia used AV balloting in 1952 and 1953.
of Gabriola Island,
at a public hearing in Nanaimo May 27. She proposes a mixed member
proportional (MMP) electoral system, as she experienced in New
Zealand. Voters would vote for both their choice of local MLA and
for a preferred party. In the end, each party's share of seats in
the House would reflect as closely as possible its share of the
of Victoria, who addressed a public hearing
there on June 10. He spoke on behalf of the Fair Vote Canada
organization, of which he is vice-president. He says MMP or the
Single Transferable Vote (STV) system would best suit B.C. and he
compares them. In STV, voters rank candidates in order of
preference; ballots are then counted so that the candidates with
the highest preferences are elected.
of Naramata, who spoke in Penticton June 23.
He also proposed an MMP system, with the number of seats in the
provincial legislature being reduced to 72 from the current 79. In
his system, half the members would be elected in constituencies
that coincide with the 36 federal ridings in B.C. The other 36
would come from party lists of candidates.
of Richmond, who spoke at a public hearing in
Richmond on May 4. He recommends a "Preferential Plus" system (a
combination of AV and STV), with preferential voting in multi-seat
ridings for urban areas and single-seat ridings for rural areas,
thus producing semi-proportional representation. He's a former
Social Credit MLA, is a director of Fair Voting BC, and wrote the
book Citizenship and Democracy
, a case for proportional
of Victoria, who made a public presentation
in Ganges, Salt Spring Island, on June 19. He spoke of how
different electoral systems can cause changes in the power and
methods of operation of political parties, including the selection
of candidates. He also urged the Assembly to think about the
consequences of repeated minority governments.
, mayor of Fort Nelson, who spoke there on May
11. She said that representation by a "local" MLA is particularly
important in remote and rural regions, and that any electoral
system must ensure it continues. Some electoral systems would
require larger constituencies (unless the Legislature were
increased in size). Mayor Morey argued against larger ridings,
saying voters in areas such as hers would be "outnumbered, outvoted
and not counted."
of Peachland, who spoke in Kelowna on June 24.
The former Social Credit provincial cabinet minister strongly
defended the current single-member plurality (SMP) system, often
known as First Past the Post (FPTP). He said: "A run-off vote to
confirm a majority vote for members may be quite acceptable, but
the concept of Proportional Representation would be a monumental
error of judgment."
of Ladysmith, who addressed a public hearing in
Nanaimo May 27. Dr. West advocates a modified form of STV, with
constituencies of as many as 5-7 members in urban areas, and 2-3 in
remote areas. His electoral districts would be based strongly on
existing Regional Districts and municipalities. He called for a
system of "circuits", so that each community is represented by an
Presentations will run from 9am – 4pm September 11,
at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 West Hastings
Street, Vancouver. Open to the public, but seating is limited;
first come, first served. (Live audio and video feeds will run in
an overflow room.).
New on our website
coverage of the Assembly's meetings in Prince George on
June 26-27. At these sessions, members reviewed what they had heard
and learned from the public. They also began to plan the fall
meetings at which they will work towards a decision. Look under
"Learning Resources" on the homepage, then select "Learning
Materials", then "Audio and Video". Also on that page is a new
video vignette from the Knowledge Network.
A small photo gallery
Assembly members and the Assembly process in action. You'll find it
on our website under "News & Events". It offers 16 photos.
A detailed look at the history and operations of the Citizens'
Assembly, given by Leo Perra, the Assembly's chief operations
officer, to an audience in Beijing. He was speaking to the
Sino-Canadian Seminar on Public Participation in the Legislative
Process on July 13. It was sponsored by the Parliamentary Centre of
Canada. We now have his presentation on our website, as a Word document
and as a PDF
on the Assembly by Prof. R.S. Ratner of UBC, first
published in the summer issue of the Canadian Parliamentary
We also have more on the website from the nine
selected to make plenary presentations on September 11,
with links to what they earlier advised the Assembly.
Summer reading list
Members of the Citizens' Assembly have been busy on their summer
Reading Break — two months of study, reading, review
Their reading list includes:
given to the Assembly in writing.
presentations that were made at 50 public hearings by more than 370
individuals and groups, all over B.C., in May and June.
The members’ main textbook: Electoral Systems: a
comparative introduction, by David M. Farrell (Basingstoke and
New York: Palgrave, 2001). ISBN 0-333-80162-8 (paperback),
If you'd like to do some electoral reading along with the
members, we also have on our website an overview of what Assembly
members heard at the public hearings, summaries of the hearings,
the news releases that the Assembly issued after each public
hearing, and a page of "Recommended Reading". You'll find this last
item (and much more) on the Assembly website under "Learning
More submissions online
We now have more than 1,100 submissions posted on the website
and more are being processed. To date, we have received well over
1,300 written submissions.
Submissions that were received prior to August 13 will be made
available to members before their deliberation weekends begin on
You can still add your views by providing your submission via
our website, e-mailing it to email@example.com
or mailing it to our office. (The address is below.) Submissions
received later than August 13 will be processed and posted on the
website, but will not necessarily be available to members prior to
The fall calendar
Assembly members are looking at six busy weekends of meetings
this fall for their "deliberation phase" and decision-making.
Here are the dates confirmed: (The detailed agenda for each
weekend is still being drafted and, when complete, will be posted
on the Assembly website.)
September 11-12: Plenary presentations from
nine invited presenters, and beginning of decision process.
December 15: Deadline for final report to the
people of B.C. The Citizens’ Assembly then
Note the two consecutive weekends in October. That’s
to accommodate the Thanksgiving Day weekend, with Thanksgiving Day
falling on Monday October 11.
All meetings are at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in
Vancouver (580 West Hastings Street). Public plenary meetings are
admission-free. Seating is limited; we suggest you come early. (For
extra visitors on September 11, audio and video feeds will be run
to an overflow room.) Saturday meetings normally run from 9am-noon,
and from 1:30pm – 4:30pm. Sunday meetings are set to
run from 9am-12:30pm.