Ask me a question; tell me no lies

We are now one year since the provincial election and approaching a year into the NDP-led-by-agreement-with-Greens-minority provincial government. And not surprisingly, given how split BC voters were in that 2017 election, opinions on how the government is performing are split as well.

We are now one year since the provincial election and approaching a year into the NDP-led-by-agreement-with-Greens-minority provincial government. And not surprisingly, given how split BC voters were in that 2017 election, opinions on how the government is performing are split as well.

The Angus Reid Institute, in the business of taking the pulse of the population, released a new poll last week in which British Columbians had their say.

“On one hand, British Columbians support some key policy changes introduced by Premier John Horgan on the affordability file. On the other, they are expressing palpable unease over his party’s handling of an ongoing dispute with the Alberta and federal governments over the Kinder Morgan pipeline project,” says the latest release from Angus Reid.

But here’s a key point that Premier John Horgan had best take note of. Although roughly equal numbers say this government has helped/hurt them personally, when asked whether the province is on the right or wrong track, the answer is ‘wrong track’ (42 per cent vs 29 per cent who say it’s on the right one).

And yet, 47 per cent of B.C. residents approve of Horgan’s performance. BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is only scoring 26 per cent in that regard, although that could be due to his relative newness — a lot of British Columbians have likely not had an opportunity to form a real opinion of him yet. And Green Leader Andrew Weaver has 34 per cent support.

While pipeline politics have, and continue to, dominate the spring, the next big issue is the proportional representation referendum, which will take place before the end of November 2018.

The BC Liberals have been speaking against pro-rep since Premier Horgan promised the vote, but the polls indicate that defeating it may be a hard sell.

Angus Reid reports that 57 per cent support changing the voting system. Not only that, 56 per cent are not concerned that the details of the referendum have yet to be released.

I, myself, am very interested in the question because while pro-rep has a lot of positive points, it is very complicated. How the government is going to parse down such a complex system into anything resembling a simple question is of great interest to me.

I really hope that whoever is crafting the question is not going to try to fudge the issue.

Remember the Quebec referendum of 1995? Instead of a straight forward question, should Quebec separate from Canada, yes or no, the Parizeau government got a little cute.

“Do you agree that Québec should become sovereign, after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership, within the scope of the Bill respecting the future of Québec and of the agreement signed on 12 June 1995?”

Polls indicated that almost 30 per cent of voters thought a yes vote would mean Quebec negotiating a better deal within Confederation, not actual separation. In the end, the federalists managed to squeak out a 50.58 victory, and many suggested that the complicated question may have led to that very narrow margin.

So please take note, NDP-led-by-agreement-with-Greens-minority provincial government, put out a straightforward question — do you want to go to proportional representation, yes or no? Leave out all the wherefors and notwithstandings and other like jargon. Don’t fuzz it up. Yes or no.

Although scuttlebutt has it that NDP caucus members have had an advance look at the possible question and BC Liberal caucus members have not, so that doesn’t lead me to believe the question is all that straightforward. That leads me to believe that someone is getting a jump on framing the message on a complicated question.

I just want a yes or no. I want to leave the voting place feeling like I’ve had my say, not like I’ve been had by a sneaky question, unsure what I even voted for.

We’ve already had a year of being unsure of what we voted for. Let’s turn the corner shall we?

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