No side was un­der cru­cial dis­ad­van­tage

Re: “Hor­gan, Wilkin­son clash on vot­ing,” col­umn, Nov. 9.

Times Colonist - - Comment - John Lover Oak Bay

What struck me forcibly dur­ing Thurs­day’s de­bate on the elec­toral-re­form ref­er­en­dum was that the gov­ern­ment’s or­ga­ni­za­tion, or rather ma­nip­u­la­tion, of the ref­er­en­dum pro­ce­dure had put the op­po­si­tion un­der a cru­cial dis­ad­van­tage.

It was clear that Premier John Hor­gan had the ben­e­fit of pos­i­tively propos­ing change, while Op­po­si­tion Leader An­drew Wilkin­son was forced into the per­ceived po­si­tion of neg­a­tiv­ity. A fair and sim­ple de­sign of the bal­lot ques­tion — do you sup­port ei­ther first-past-the-post or PR — would have pro­duced a level play­ing field in which both pro­tag­o­nists could have based their ar­gu­ments firmly and pos­i­tively on the mer­its of the sys­tem of their choice. As it stands, the terms “pig in a poke” and “dog’s break­fast” are jus­ti­fied in de­scrib­ing this bal­lot pa­per.

In short, all this sup­ported my con­vic­tion that the gov­ern­ment since Day 1 has un­fairly con­trolled and slanted this is­sue in its ef­forts to sus­tain its power, based on its deal with the Green Party. This is typ­i­cal of the cyn­i­cal back­room deal­ings to sus­tain power, a fea­ture of PR sys­tems that reg­u­larly pro­duce fringe par­ties and mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ments.

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