By Joe Fries
Special to OsoyoosToday
Two-thirds of voters in the South Okanagan rejected the notion of proportional representation, according to referendum results released Thursday by Elections BC.
Local results mirrored the bigger picture provincially, with 61 per cent of B.C. voters choosing to stick with first-past-the-post for electing MLAs.
The margin was 63 per cent in favour of FPTP in the Penticton riding and 69 per cent in Boundary-Similkameen.
“This was a referendum in which the hoped-for outcome was derived right from the start, and I think the people of B.C. knew that,” said Penticton Liberal MLA Dan Ashton, who along with the rest of his party advocated for sticking with FPTP.
Had the process been different, “I think the numbers may have been closer, but… it was a rigged process and people saw it.”
Margaret Holm, one of the organizers of Fair Vote South Okanagan Similkameen, which advocated for PR, said the group faced an uphill battle countering a “fear-based campaign” by the no side.
“I think part of the reason we lost is because it’s always hard to advocate for change,” she said.
Ms. Holm is optimistic, however, that the work done by the group’s 50 volunteers helped raise the profile of PR and set the stage for when the debate inevitably returns.
“I honestly think that it’s an idea that may take some time, but this discussion is not going to go away,” she said.
Joe Fries is an editor and writer with The Penticton Herald. OsoyoosToday and The Herald share an informal editorial use agreement.