'PR is lit' or 'a dog's breakfast': Feisty debate on electoral reform offers no clear winner - Canadanewsmedia
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'PR is lit' or 'a dog's breakfast': Feisty debate on electoral reform offers no clear winner

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In what may have been a preview of B.C.’s next provincial election campaign, voters got a chance to watch B.C. Premier John Horgan and BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson go head to head in a televised debate for the first time.

The two leaders were facing off over the province’s referendum on electoral reform, which could see B.C. switch from the current first-past-the-post voting system to a system of proportional representation.

LISTEN: Horgan vs. Wilkinson: Electoral reform debate and analysis 

There was no shortage of heat as the two leaders sparred, with both men talking over each other repeatedly early on in the debate.


READ MORE:
Proportional Representation for Dummies: A electoral reform referendum cheat sheet

The crosstalk got so intense at one point that Horgan was able to slip in one of the debate’s early zingers:

“I think at this point in the evening, if I’m just going to listen to one guy yell over top of the other guy, I’m going to go watch Wheel of Fortune,” he said.

No leader scored a clear knockout blow, and by the end of the combative debate, each had made several key points they hoped to communicate.

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Unanswered questions

Andrew Wilkinson wasted no time going on the attack, directing the bulk of his firepower to the multitude of unanswered questions that still surround a switch to PR.

Wilkinson argued that there are at least 23 features of a proposed PR system that won’t be decided before people vote, likening the process to handing a blank cheque to a used car salesman.

“How many votes will people get under your proposed system,” Wilkinson asked Horgan repeatedly in one particularly combative segment, accusing Horgan of evading the question. “How many MLAs will they have in their riding?”

It was a question Horgan didn’t directly answer — assuring listeners that voters would still vote in their regular polling place for a real human, but deferring the technical details of a PR system to an as-yet convened electoral boundaries commission.

Want context on the PR debate? Watch Global BC’s electoral reform post-debate special






“I don’t know the answer,” he said.

“There are redistributions, maps are redrawn all the time.”

That was a reply Wilkinson pounced on later in the debate.

“He’s in charge of the results after you vote,” Wilkinson said. “He gets to fill in all the blanks, and it puzzles me why he’s not filling in the blanks tonight.”

Throughout the debate, Wilkinson returned again and again to argue that the PR systems on offer are confusing, arguing the NDP had chosen untested systems behind closed doors and that the party had failed to communicate how people’s votes would be “transferred around the province” to get proportional results.

Wilkinson also pounded on the referendum process, calling the ballot a confusing “dog’s breakfast,” and pointing to the less than two per cent of ballots that have been returned so far as a consequence.

A question of fairness

Horgan’s key point throughout the debate: switching to PR is about creating an electoral system that is fairer by ensuring a party gets the same percentage of seats in the house as its percentage of the popular vote.

The premier argued that just once in B.C.’s history has a party come to power with more than 50 per cent of the vote, and he pointed to recent election results around Canada to make his point.

“In Quebec, 37 per cent of the vote gave 100 per cent of the power. In Ontario, 40 per cent of the vote gave 100 per cent of the power,” Horgan argued.

“And in New Brunswick, explain this to people, the party that got 38 per cent of the vote got fewer seats than the party that had 32 per cent of the vote. That’s first-past-the-post.”

Horgan argued that PR would increase public participation and voter turnout, and that it would result in a system that was more inclusive and co-operative — pointing to Germany as an example of a country that was governed by a “grand coalition” of parties on the left and right.

WATCH: Proportional Representation for Dummies






Wilkinson argued that none of what Horgan is promising is guaranteed, and could come at the cost of the simplicity and stability of the current system.

“It’s important that you get to hire your MLA and you get to fire your MLA,” he argued at one point.

“Everybody understands the system we have right now, because it’s familiar to all of us,” he argued at another.

“Whoever gets the most votes wins. The names are on the ballots. The people in the communities know it’s their community that’s voting for a particular individual.”

Another citizens’ assembly?

While Wilkinson did defend the current first-past-the-post system as simple and easy to use, he also acknowledged that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, Wilkinson floated the idea of another Citizens’ Assembly, like the one that crafted B.C.’s 2005 and 2009 referendums on the Single Transferable Vote (STV).

READ MORE: Just 1 per cent of ballots have been returned so far in the B.C. electoral reform referendum

“It’s been 14 years since the last one. They would come out with a straightforward yes/no question for people to vote on,” Wilkinson argued.

Wilkinson argued such a process ensures the electoral system remained firmly in the hands of voters, and said it should also be paired with a general election to ensure maximum turnout.

WATCH: British Columbians slow to respond to electoral reform referendum






‘Pro Rep is lit’

There was no question that at least one of the leaders had the youth vote on the mind, throwing out terms like “hip” repeatedly throughout the debate.

“Young people like the idea of coming together,” said Horgan, in response to a question about young people’s disconnection with the political process — and teeing up a quip that lit up social media.

“If you were woke, you would know that pro rep is lit.”

Horgan argued that young people are turned off by a process where they feel like their votes aren’t counted, particularly if they’re in a so-called “safe” riding that reliably goes to one party or another.

READ MORE: ‘I’m not an expert’ says B.C. minister quizzed on proportional representation

“If you live in a heavily-dominated Liberal area, or a heavily-dominated NDP area, people don’t show up because they know what the outcome is,” he said.

“With proportional representation, people will engage with the system because they don’t know what the outcome is.”

Voters have until the end of the month to make up their mind on which way they will vote, with ballots due back to Elections BC by Nov. 30.

Who do you think won Thursday’s debate on proportional representation?

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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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