British Columbia is making
history by inviting citizens to shape our democratic process.
The Government of British Columbia has taken the unprecedented step of
turning over a review of our electoral system to the people of this
province. Not to politicians, not to "experts," but to an independent
assembly of 160 British Columbians. 160 people randomly selected from the
provincial voters list who have chosen to serve their province as members of
the Citizens' Assembly.
Nowhere else in the world has this been done.
Furthermore, Citizens' Assembly members will not just review the current and
alternate electoral systems. They will recommend the system that they
believe will best serve the people of this province.
If the recommendation is for change, that recommendation will go directly to
the people of B.C. British Columbia voters will have the final say in a
referendum which would be held May 17, 2005 as part of the next provincial
The Citizens' Assembly really excited to be part of this ground-breaking
initiative. This is a first, not just for B.C., but for all modern
democratic countries. Never before have non-elected citizens been given such
power over a major public policy decision.
Assembly members are working on behalf of all British Columbians, so your
views are important. You can make your voice heard by participating in
public hearings in May and June 2004, or by preparing a written submission
for the Assembly to consider.
The Citizens' Assembly is a bold experiment in citizen-led public policy
development; this really is power to the people. And our success depends on
the interest and involvement of all British Columbians.
The Citizens’ Assembly was created by the Government of British Columbia
with the unanimous support of the British Columbia Legislature. It is an
independent, non-partisan assembly of randomly selected citizens who will
meet to examine the province’s electoral system—that is, how our votes
determine who gets elected to sit in the provincial legislature.
What are the activities of the Citizens' Assembly?
There will be three phases to the Citizens’ Assembly:
Learning: Members learn in January-March 2004 about our current electoral
system and other electoral systems used around the world.
Public Hearings: There will be public hearings in May-June 2004 throughout
the province, for members to hear what their fellow citizens have to say
about electoral reform. The Assembly will also accept submissions from the
Deliberation: The Citizens’ Assembly will decide in September-November 2004
whether our current electoral system should be changed and, if so, make a
recommendation for a new system.
The Citizens’ Assembly will report its recommendation to the people of
British Columbia by December 2004. If the current electoral system is
supported by the Citizens’ Assembly, that will bring the Assembly’s work to
a close. If the Citizens’ Assembly suggests a change, its report will
describe the pros and cons of both our current system and the recommended
system, explaining why the new system is preferred. It will also draft the
referendum question on this issue for the May 2005 provincial election. The
Assembly will disband after handing in its final recommendation.
How is the Assembly funded?
The Citizens’ Assembly is a provincial government initiative and is funded
through the Attorney General’s office. The established budget for the
Assembly is $5.5 million. The Assembly operates independently of government,
and is in control of its own budget.
Which political parties support the Citizens’Assembly?
The Citizens’ Assembly was created in May 2004 with the unanimous support of
the Legislative Assembly in Victoria. All major parties and many smaller
parties (which have no representation in the Legislature) support the
How will you ensure the Citizens’ Assembly as a whole remains non-partisan?
Criteria for membership in the Assembly were created specifically to
depoliticize the selection process and protect the Assembly from possible
charges of bias.
Also, in the spirit of dialogue which shapes this process, members are asked
to suspend judgment during the learning and public hearings phases.
How will the Assembly reach its decisions?
Members will be very involved in shaping the Citizens' Assembly
The intent of the Assembly is to listen to and respect all opinions,
therefore a process like consensus may be used. If a consensus-based model
does not work for the Assembly, the mandate provides for a simple majority