October 22 2018

MEDIA RELEASE: BC Government has Ruled that Criticism of the Referendum is Support for First Past the Post

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Media Release

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

October 22, 2018

 

BC Government has Ruled that Criticism of the Referendum is Support for First Past the Post

VANCOUVER, BC – The KNOWB4UVOTE.COM Society on behalf of its initiative FairReferendum.com (“Fair Referendum”) has exchanged six letters with Elections BC regarding the flawed referendum process and the criteria for Referendum Advertising Sponsors.

Fair Referendum sought clarity on its potential categorization as a Referendum Advertising Sponsor, as it had not taken a stance on the outcome of the referendum, but rather on the process itself.

In its correspondence with Fair Referendum, Elections BC stated “…messages that criticize the referendum process indirectly promote the status quo, hence promote the current First Past the Post Voting system.” Elections BC went on to state that “the publication of the public awareness campaign of the Society is aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the Referendum and the referendum ballot, thereby dissuading citizens from participating in the process and responding to any and all of the four questions posed.”  

Elections BC’s letters clearly state that criticism of the referendum process will dissuade voters from participating which would support the status quo, First Past the Post voting system. “The government has politicized the referendum process and ballot to such a degree that criticism of any kind, has been determined to support the status quo” said Jim Shepard, spokesperson for FairReferendum.com.

Throughout the course of the Referendum on Electoral Reform, there have been numerous public statements about the flawed and biased process. Reporters, public commentators, citizens as well as the Globe and Mail Editorial Board have been critical of the way this referendum has been designed. According to Elections BC, these groups and individuals’ criticism of the government’s process, will dissuade voter turnout and indirectly make them advocates for First Past the Post.

“This government has displayed their intent to stifle dissent and critical review about their Referendum process, while they amplify their voice for their preferred outcome with tax-payer dollars. Manipulation should not be the path to Electoral Reform” said Shepard.

“The goal of Fair Referendum is to bring awareness to a government policy decision which led to a rushed, flawed, and biased process” said Shepard. “The Government is limiting our voice, campaigning for their preferred outcome, and has Elections BC promoting voter turnout which by their own logic would be in support of Proportional Representation.” 

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About FairReferendum.com

FairReferendum.com is a non-partisan, non-government organization that wants the 2018 referendum process to be fair and free of bias. Visit FairReferendum.com to learn more.

 

Contact:

Jim Shepard

1.877.815.9761

media@FairReferendum.com

BACKGROUNDER

 

On August 2, 2018, FairReferendum.com wrote to Elections BC regarding the basis of our campaign and asking if the subject matter of our campaign would be classified as Referendum Advertising:

 

“The Fair Referendum initiative has never advocated for any outcome related to the Referendum, nor has it encouraged voters to abstain from voting. A suggestion, that the Subject Matter and Issues raised by Fair Referendum may lead to a lower voter turnout – which in turn would indirectly promote or oppose a specific response to a referendum question – is of a great concern to the Society…

As such, the Society would like a written opinion from Elections BC that clarifies whether the Subject Matter and Issues raised by the Fair Referendum initiative are considered to be messaging that promotes or opposes, directly or indirectly, a specific response to a referendum question.”

 

On August 14, 2018, Elections BC responded stating that our opposition to the process meant support for FPTP:

“Advertising messages that criticize the referendum process indirectly promote the status quo, hence promote the current First Past the Post Voting system.” – Western, M. Nola. “Elections BC LTR Aug 14 2018

 

On August 23, 2018 FairReferendum.com wrote to Elections BC again, asking for support of its August 14th statement:

“Does Elections BC believe that the current referendum process favours a particular outcome, and thereby any criticism of the process indirectly opposes that outcome?

This hypothesis concerns us greatly and requires a direct response from your office. The Statement from your office “advertising messages that criticize the referendum process indirectly promote the status quo, hence promote the current First Past the Post voting system” could only apply if indeed, the process had been established to favour an outcome.”

August 31, 2018 FairReferendum.com received a response from Elections BC

“Advertising material that is intended to convince citizens that the referendum process is unfair acts to undermine the legitimacy of the referendum and the referendum ballot. This dissuades citizens from participating in the process and responding to any of the ballot questions, thus indirectly promoting a specific response to a referendum question – that response being a decision to not answer any of the questions on the ballot.” – Western, M. Nola. “Elections BC LTR Aug 31 2018.”

 

September 13, 2018 FairReferendum.com letter to Elections BC.

“With respect to the relationship between criticizing the referendum process and the effects on voter turnout we understand Elections BC to say that criticism “dissuades citizens from participating in the process and responding to any of the ballot questions” (the “Conclusion”)…

 

September 25, 2018

“…[I]t is our opinion that the publication of the public awareness campaign of the Society is aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the Referendum and the referendum ballot, thereby dissuading citizens from participating in the process and responding to any and all of the four questions posed. The Society’s advertising messages are designed to persuade voters to react either by not participating in the Referendum process, by or influencing them to vote so as to maintain the status quo because they perceive the process to consider change, per the advertising messages, is “unfair”.” –Boegman, Anton. “Elections BC LTR Sep 25 2018 to JShepard.”

 

ENCLOSURES


Download Link: FairReferendum_Letters_exchanged_with_Elections_BC

Enclosed:

August 2, 2018 - Letter from FairReferendum.com to Elections BC

August 14, 2018 - Response from Elections BC

August 23, 2018 - Letter from FairReferendum.com to Elections BC

August 31, 2018 - Response from Elections BC

September 13, 2018 – Letter from FairReferendum.com to Elections BC

September 25, 2018 - Response from Elections BC