January 15, 2014

Referendum: The Pre-Debate Begins

A pre-debate is the debate about the referendum – not the actual initiative itself.  In other words, much of what this blog has discussed.

At least the pre-debate is beginning – if two recent columns are an indication: Vaughan Palmer in The Sun (Of local elections and long shots) and Gary Mason in The Globe (If B.C. transit vote is to succeed, campaign must start now).


… much still needs to be sorted out. Would the referendum be run by the province or local government, and under what rules? Who would pay for the cost of staging it? Would the vote be decided regionally or in each of the Metro municipalities? What if most municipalities rejected the new revenue measures only to be swamped by the electorate in a couple of the larger ones?

Meanwhile, local leaders fret about time running out on any reasonable hope of securing passage for the referendum.


There are numerous considerations that the B.C. government has regarding its referendum, many of which are complicated and will involve considerable thought and analysis. Meantime, the clock is ticking and each day the province loses before announcing details of its ballot measure – allowing some form of Say Yes campaign to coalesce around it and push it over the finish line – the harder it becomes to achieve a positive outcome.

Best summary, though, comes from Ken Ohrn:

  1. An information vacuum is a bad place to find success.
  2. A leadership vacuum is a bad sign.
  3. A plan-and-specifics vacuum means that no one knows what they are voting for or against.
  4. A funding model vacuum means no meat in any debate.
  5. An issues and benefits vacuum means no heat in any debate.
  6. When there’s no question in play, there can be no discussion.


There are 304 days left – and no one I’ve talked to has any idea what’s happening in Victoria.

It is, however, not to late for this: Let’s not have the referendum in 304 days.  Given that the Premier has locked her government into having the damn thing, let’s take the time to do it right.  At minimum, recruit a leader who can mobilize the needed constituency to craft an initiative that has a chance of success, assemble the resources and lead the charge.

Assuming, of course, that the idea is to win.

Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on