Frequently Asked Questions
What is the scope of the Assembly’s mandate?
The Citizens’ Assembly will be looking specifically at how we turn votes
into seats in the British Columbia legislature. This means it will not be
examining such issues as campaign financing, voting machines, electronic
voting electoral boundaries, campaign advertising, etc.
According to the Terms of
Reference, the Citizens’ Assembly will consider only electoral models that
are "consistent with the constitution of Canada and the Westminster
Which electoral systems will you consider?
The Citizens’ Assembly will examine a variety of electoral systems,
including the "first past the post" system currently used in British
The specifics of the Assembly's educational and research component will be
determined by the members and the Assembly's Chief Research Officer. In
keeping with the mandate, the Assembly will only consider models which are
"consistent with the constitution of Canada and the Westminster
Who else in Canada is reviewing the electoral system?
Several other provinces are also looking at electoral reform such as New
Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, as well as the City of
Vancouver. Only in B.C., though, has the job been given to randomly selected
citizens. Indeed, nowhere else in the world has such an independent and
non-partisan group of citizens been so empowered.
How can British Columbians stay informed about the process?
In order to keep the public informed:
Citizens’ Assembly education sessions and meetings are open to the public.
All the learning materials prepared for Assembly members will be posted on
our website and will be available from the Assembly office.
In April 2004, a report will be available describing what the Citizens’
Assembly thinks are some of the best options for the province.
A final report will be available by mid-December 2004, at the end of the
Citizens’ Assembly process, describing its recommendation on B.C.’s
Newsletters will be sent to those who sign up for updates on the Assembly.
The Citizens' Assembly will also keep the public informed through the news
Is this a wise use of scarce public funds?
Most British Columbians cherish our democratic system and are willing to
make a prudent and timely investment in the health of our democracy.
What happens now the Citizens' Assembly has recommended a new electoral
The Assembly's recommendation goes to a referendum to be held, for all
registered B.C. voters, along with the provincial election on May 17, 2005.
To pass, and to become binding on the provincial government, the May 17
referendum would have to win with a "double majority", as follows:
Approval by at least 60% of the validly cast ballots province-wide,
And, as well, passage by more than 50% of the validly cast ballots in at
least 48 of the 79 constituencies. (That is, by a simple majority in 60% of
If the referendum passes, then the government must bring in appropriate
legislation that would ensure the new electoral model can be in place for
the election of May 2009.
These details are spelled out in the final version of Bill 52-2004, the
"Electoral Reform Referendum Act".
This was passed in the legislature on 18 May 2004, and was given royal
assent (thus formally becoming law) two days later. (Here, too, is a link to
the provincial Referendum Act, to which Bill 52 refers.)
The government left it up to the members to draft a question for the
referendum. This they did, and the question reads:
"Should British Columbia change to the BC-STV electoral system as
recommended by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform? Yes/No".
The members had advice on the wording from the government's constitutional
lawyers, who were asked to confirm that the planned wording will stand up
under our current constitution and laws.
Electoral boundary changes and redrawing constituency maps for BC-STV system
would be up to the independent provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission.