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British Columbia premier, Opposition leader clash in electoral reform debate

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BURNABY, B.C.—British Columbia’s political leaders clashed in a debate on electoral reform on Thursday, with Premier John Horgan casting proportional representation as modern and even “hip,” while Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson insisted the system was too confusing.

The politicians often talked over one another during the heated televised discussion on the province’s voting referendum, with Horgan pushing a switch to proportional representation and Wilkinson defending the current first-past-the-post process.

Premier John Horgan and Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson following the Electoral Reform Debate at Global Television.  (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Voters who mark their referendum ballots in favour of proportional representation must rank three possible systems, and Wilkinson accused Horgan of refusing to answer questions and being dishonest with voters about how the systems would work.

“You won’t tell people how many votes they have. You won’t tell people how many MLAs they have,” he said. “People are getting confused by this ballot, which is why the turnout is now 2.5 per cent, because people are not sure what to do with this dog’s breakfast.”

Horgan responded that the three systems are straightforward, and that debate hosts CBC and Global encapsulated them well earlier in the broadcast. He said he trusts B.C. residents will do their research before voting in the referendum.

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“I have more confidence in the people of British Columbia, clearly, than you do,” Horgan said.

The premier added that fear of change appeared to be motivating Wilkinson and opponents of proportional representation. The system is used successfully in countries around the world, while first-past-the-post in Canada consistently produces winners out of popular-vote losers, he said.

“Let’s get modern. Let’s get hip,” Horgan said.

Later, Horgan adopted millennial lingo to make his pitch, telling Wilkinson, “If you were woke, you’d know pro-rep was lit.”

The debate was frequently chaotic. Horgan quipped at one point that if it was just going to be two men yelling over one another, then people were likely to change the channel to Wheel of Fortune.

Wilkinson pushed back against Horgan’s suggestion that the current system only works for the BC Liberals, which won the 2001 election and the next three elections.

“Let’s talk about how parliamentary systems have worked robustly across Canada and the English-speaking world for hundreds of years,” Wilkinson said.

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“At the riding level in the current system, if you like your MLA, you hire them, if you don’t, you fire them. That’s very clear and you know who they are.”

Wilkinson said he was concerned that Horgan’s government had selected three options for proportional representation, two of which have never been used before, out of more than a dozen possibilities.

The Opposition leader said a citizens’ assembly should have been formed to create the ballot question.

The three options on the ballot are somewhat complicated, but all would mean that voters still choose at least one local MLA while the legislature’s make-up more accurately reflects the popular vote.

Ballots can be returned by mail or dropped off at several locations around the province, but must be received by Nov. 30, with results expected sometime in December.

A majority of 50 per cent plus one is needed to change the system.

The New Democrats made electoral reform an election promise in 2017, and holding a referendum was a key part of their agreement with the Green party to take power in the legislature.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver did not participate in the debate.

The referendum is B.C.’s third such question on electoral reform, with previous votes in 2005 and 2009 that both ended in defeat. Horgan has said that he believes the third vote will be the province’s last.

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Longtime public voice of the TTC stepping down to take role with city

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Chris Fox, CP24.com</span>


Published Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:17AM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:51AM EST

The longtime public voice of the TTC is stepping aside to take on a newly-created role with the city.

Brad Ross announced on Wednesday morning that he will step down as the TTC’s executive director of corporate communications in order to become the new Chief Communications Officer for the City of Toronto.

His last day on the job at the TTC will be Dec. 14 and his first day on the job at the city will be Jan. 7.

“As a teenager from Scarborough, I took the TTC everywhere – school, part-time jobs, concerts, the mall, Yonge St. pinball arcades. It was a lifeline. It’s crazy to me that a few decades later I became the TTC’s go-to for public explanations,” Ross said in a series of messages posted to Twitter. “It has been a humbling experience to play that role. I’ll miss it.”

Ross first joined the TTC back in 2008 after spending eight years as the manager of media relations and issues management at the city.

While at the TTC Ross became a familiar voice and was often thrust into the spotlight at trying times as he was called on to offer up explanations for subway delays, overcrowding issues and a myriad of other controversies that popped up from time to time.

He also gained a loyal following on Twitter, where he shared updates on issues affecting commuters  with his 30,000 followers and even offered the occasional joke. When someone placed their live crabs on a subway seat this past spring, Ross quipped that it was “shellfish behaviour.”

In a series of messages posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Ross said that he is “proud” to have played a part in what he called the “daily miracle” of getting Torontonians to where they need to go.

He said that the city is lucky to have “incredibly smart and good people leading the TTC,” something that he said will continue to be the case.

“From operators to stations staff to planners to special constables to HR professionals to mechanics and especially to my colleagues in comms, a very big thank you,” he said.

According to a news release from the city, Ross will be “responsible for communicating the overall strategic direction for the City of Toronto, as well as making sure the public clearly understands council’s priorities and how to access city programs and services.”

The city says that Ross was selected for the new role following a “comprehensive search.”

“Brad brings a wealth of experience to lead our professional communications staff in the development of internal and external communications strategies, public education campaigns, digital outreach and more,” City Manager Chris Murray said in the news release. “He is a champion of best practices, has deep relationships with the media, can capably manage emerging situations and will be a great steward of the city’s brand. I’m elated to have him return to the city in this key leadership role."

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2 teens arrested in death of 17-year-old from Nuns' Island

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Montreal police have arrested two teens, a boy and a girl, in connection with the death of a 17-year-old, whose body was found in a wooded area on Nuns' Island earlier this week.

The two teens, who are also 17, are expected to appear in youth court in Montreal later today. They are expected to face charges of armed robbery and second-degree murder.

It's unclear if the suspects knew the victim or not. The teen's death is the 27th homicide in Montreal this year. 

Police initially said they believed his death was an accident. A passerby found his body Monday morning. 

Tuesday evening, they revealed his death was a homicide and that he had been stabbed in the lower body.

The investigation was transferred to Montreal police's major crimes unit and the suspects were arrested later Tuesday evening. 

A Nuns' Island Islamic community centre created an online fundraiser to help the victim's mother with funeral costs. It is also holding a gathering in his honour Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Al Jazira Islamic Centre.

He lived in Nuns' Island and worked at the local Tim Hortons and IGA grocery store while studying in CEGEP, according to community members who knew him. 

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Don't call it a party: Graydon Pelley walks away from PCs, starting new political group

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Graydon Pelley is walking away from the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and starting a new political party, with the goal of forming the provincial government in the 2019 election. 

Graydon Pelley has resigned as president of Newfoundland and Labrador's PCs. (Graydon Pelley/Twitter)

"Over the last little while I feel that we are not seeing that move toward real change that people want," Pelley told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"I feel people are fed up with the way that party politics is operating in our province."

The now former president of the PC Party is calling the new party NL Alliance, and Pelley is seeking the required number of people to join him to officially register for the 2019 ballot. 

According to Elections Newfoundland and Labrador, before a political party can be registered, it must:

  • Submit an application.
  • Submit a signed petition with a minimum of 1,000 names of eligible electors that can attest to the existence of the political party.
  • Appoint both a chief financial officer (CFO) and auditor.
  • Provide a mandatory audited statement of the assets and liabilities as of a date not earlier than 90 days prior to the date of application for registration and attested to by the CFO.

A party is not an officially registered party until the chief electoral officer has approved the application.

Political parties in the province have lost focus on representing the people, according to Pelley. Ideas, regardless of whether they are good or bad, will by default be argued against by an opposing party, he said.  

"That needs to change and we need to focus on the people." 

No animosity, just change

Pelley said he's staying away from the word "party" in his new political adventure. He said he hasn't had a falling out with any party in particular, but just wants to see change in politics in the province.

Pelley says his plan is to have NL Alliance on the ballot for the next election. (CBC)

"Change has to start somewhere, and I believe that change has to start with somebody who's out there, who's involved with people, who's very community oriented, who has no hidden agendas, no hidden interests in getting involved in politics," he said.

According to Pelley, he would like to be an elected member to the new party and to sit in the House of Assembly, but he's just as content with starting the party and working behind the scenes.

"It's not about me. It's about the people of the province," he said. 

"I'm certainly willing to do whatever my role would be to make to make this work, and to better the province of Newfoundland and Labrador."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador     

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