Task Force Should Consider All Options for Civic Election Reform Say

Fair Voting BC and Think City Want Local Governments to Have the Choice to Change How They Elect Civic Officials

VANCOUVER, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - Today, Fair Voting BC and Think City are urging the Premier's task force on local government elections to widen its enquiry and allow local jurisdictions to choose how they elect their councils, as recommended by the City of Vancouver's 2004 electoral reform commission.

"In 2005, Vancouver's council under then Mayor Larry Campbell asked the province to make local elections more fair, accountable and accessible," said Fair Voting BC President Antony Hodgson. "In particular, Mayor Campbell's 2004 electoral reform commission, chaired by former supreme court justice Thomas Berger, recommended the province give the city the freedom to choose whichever voting system best suited its own needs."

"We applaud Premier Campbell for opening a public conversation about campaign finance reform and more accountable election oversight," said Think City Chair Neil Monckton. "However, we are also asking the task force to address outstanding recommendations from Justice Berger's report, particularly that Vancouver be granted the right to choose the voting system it thinks is best suited for civic elections. Furthermore, Think City and Fair Voting BC believe election system choice needs to be extended to all local governments across BC."

"Provincial legislation currently only lets local governments choose between neighbourhood wards and the at-large voting system through majority vote in council, but there are other options for how we can elect governments," said Monckton. "Local governments need the freedom to explore these options."

"Larry Campbell's government asked the province five years ago to change the city charter to give Vancouver the power to make up its own mind about how to vote without having to constantly petition Victoria," said Hodgson. "Now that Premier Campbell is committed to overhauling the local elections act in time for the 2011 civic elections, it's time to affirm British Columbians' need for self-determination by enshrining in legislation the right of a local jurisdiction to choose their own electoral system."

Fair Voting BC and Think City also called on the task force to increase the transparency of its consultation by holding a number of public meetings, publishing all online submissions immediately after receiving them, and publishing an interim report at the beginning of May to solicit public feedback before submitting its final report.

SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information: For further information: Antony Hodgson, President, Fair Voting BC, (778) 235-7477, fairvotingbc.com; Neil Monckton, Chair, Think City, (604) 724-4307, thinkcity.ca

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