Abbotsford voters reject prop-rep

All three local electoral districts vote big against change

British Columbia voters rejected proportional representation, and Thursday’s results revealed that Abbotsford voters were among the highest to come out against it.

The Abbotsford West electoral district saw the third highest percentage supporting the first-past-the-post system, with 79.29 per cent of the 11,102 ballots cast backing the traditional voting system.

Only Peace River North (86.42) and Peace River South (84.87) had higher totals.

The Abbotsford South and Abbotsford-Mission electoral districts followed suit, with 76.8 and 73.75 respectively supporting FPTP. Abbotsford South saw 11,476 votes counted, with Abbotsford-Mission collecting 13,329.

B.C. Liberal Party member Simon Gibson, the Abbotsford-Mission MLA, said he was pleased with the results.

“I am very gratified with the results announced today by Elections BC, which will serve our residents well,” he told The News in an email on Thursday. “This was an overwhelming defeat for the government and their third-party partners. This was a $15 million Cabinet-led experiment that was seen by most residents to be highly partisan and manipulative. It is a great day for our province.”

Provincially, FPTP was supported 61.3 to 38.7, with the Fraser Valley, B.C. Interior and Peace region seats soundly rejecting proportional representation. PR did have backers on Vancouver Island and some areas of Metro Vancouver, with the highest total being 74.26 per cent in the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant district.

In total, 1,378,753 votes were tabulated, with 10,209 invalid votes.

“Electoral reform is finished,” said Deputy Premier Carole James, speaking for the NDP government while Horgan was out of the country on vacation by the time official results were released Thursday.

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who predicted last year that a move to proportional representation meant there would never be another B.C. Liberal government, downplayed his ardent support for changing the voting system when he spoke to reporters after the vote results.

Weaver rejected suggestions that the B.C. Greens remain relegated to “fringe party” status by the loss of proportional representation, which would have given the three-seat Greens as many as a dozen MLAs based on their 2017 result, 17 per cent of the popular vote spread thinly across most of B.C.

“We are not here playing House of Cards politics to try to get power,” Weaver said.

The B.C. Conservative Party, another likely beneficiary of proportional representation, also put a brave face on the result. The B.C. Liberals have dominated provincial politics by holding a coalition of federal Conservatives and Liberals together to compete against the NDP.

“The B.C. Conservatives will continue to be the only choice for British Columbians who can no longer take the tax-and-spend ways of the three major parties,” said Justin Greenwood, interim deputy leader of the B.C. Conservatives.

An Angus Reid exit poll released Friday found that rejection of proportional representation was closely aligned with regions that had supported the B.C. Liberals in the past.

Leaders of the official No campaign were an unlikely team: former B.C. Liberal attorney general Suzanne Anton and Bill Tieleman, a long-time NDP supporter who led the referendum campaign against the harmonized sales tax in 2011.

Last week’s result was the third referendum in modern times, after a single transferable vote (STV) system gained majority support in 2005 but failed narrowly under rules calling for 60 per cent support province-wide with majority support in every region.

A second STV referendum in 2009 was rejected by a similar margin to the 2018 result.

For complete results from the referendum, visit elections.bc.ca.

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