British Columbia recall and initiative referendum, 1991

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The British Columbia Recall and Initiative Referendum was a referendum held in British Columbia on October 17, 1991. It was concurrent with that year's general election. The referendum posed two questions. They were on whether elected officials should be able to be recalled and whether voters should be given a citizen's initiative. Both questions were decisively approved with over 80% of the electorate voting yes to both questions.

Lead up[edit]

British Columbia has had several referendums in its history.[1] A previous bill, the Direct Legislation Act, was passed by the Oliver government in 1919. the Direct Democracy Act was given royal assent in March of that year, but was never proclaimed. A similar statute was struck down by the Manitoba Court of Appeals later that year. These combined to leave the BC law in legislative limbo until it was removed in a 1924 statute consolidation.[2]

A promise to hold referendums was included in the British Columbia Social Credit Party (Socred) government's speech from the throne in April 1990.[3] In preparation, the Socreds had invited two experts from California familiar with recall and initiative to their annual convention.[4] Appropriate legislation was introduced on July 5, 1990.[5]

The two questions were:

A: Should the voters be given the right, by legislation, to vote between elections for the removal of their member of the Legislative Assembly?[6]

B: Should the voters be given the right, by legislation, to propose questions that the Government of British Columbia must submit to voters by referendum?[6]

Both of the questions were announced by Premier Rita Johnston during a news conference on September 5, 1991, although by then they were an open secret. NDP leader Mike Harcourt criticized the timing, saying that the Socreds had moved too slowly in launching the proposals.[4] Liberal leader Gordon Wilson also criticized the referendum, saying that it was intended to divert attention away from the scandal-plagued Socreds.[7] In response, Johnston said she could not comment on either timing or structure for the proposals because they would be decided after the referendum.[4]

The referendum was run by Attorney-General Russ Fraser. The total cost was 1.7 million dollars. The cost includes information pamphlets, advertising, toll-free information telephone lines, and costs related to running the referendum.[4]

The referendum also got caught up in the campaign going on at the same time. Both Premier Johnston and British Columbia New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Harcourt announced that they would be voting yes in the referendum.[4]

Results[edit]

There was overwhelming support for both questions. Support was over 80% of yes votes for both questions.[8] However, more than nine percent of ballots for question A were rejected, and more than eleven percent were rejected for question B. Turnout was slightly less than that in the general election.[2]

Question A: Recall[edit]

District Yes Percentage No Percentage Rejected
Abbotsford 14214 82.46 3023 17.54 1571
Alberni 10092 83.81 1949 16.19 1716
Bulkley Valley-Stikine 8077 80.18 1996 19.82 1220
Burnaby-Edmonds 16003 82.57 3378 17.43 2247
Burnaby North 15374 83.22 3099 16.78 2173
Burnaby-Willingdon 18091 81.9 3999 18.1 2215
Cariboo North 9899 85.65 1658 14.35 1294
Cariboo South 10606 82.5 2249 17.5 1439
Chilliwack 16527 82.48 3510 17.52 2372
Columbia River-Revelstoke 10237 81.78 2281 18.22 1531
Comox Valley 18435 75.7 5918 24.3 2424
Coquitlam-Maillardville 18311 82.86 3788 17.14 2026
Cowichan-Ladysmith 16652 80.54 4024 19.46 2319
Delta North 16784 84.74 3022 15.26 1517
Delta South 17299 82.11 3770 17.89 1226
Esquimalt-Metchosin 17539 82.68 3674 17.32 1915
Fort Langley-Aldergrove 15998 84.32 2975 15.68 1253
Kamloops 14595 76.55 4471 23.45 1587
Kamloops-North Thompson 10876 77.86 3093 22.14 1135
Kootenay 11770 81.9 2602 18.1 1651
Langley 14301 83.97 2731 16.03 1628
Malahat-Juan de Fuca 14933 83.67 2911 16.31 2046
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows 19897 83.01 4073 16.99 1977
Matsqui 13838 81.91 3056 18.09 2046
Mission-Kent 12657 80.24 3117 19.76 1680
Nanaimo 15919 79.64 4069 20.36 2189
Nelson-Creston 13131 78.50 3597 21.50 1869
New Westminster 15568 81.39 3560 18.61 2019
North Coast 7631 80.83 1810 19.17 1288
North Island 12185 78.53 3332 21.47 1385
North Vancouver-Lonsdale 15214 83.53 3000 16.47 1749
North Vancouver-Seymour 18469 80.68 4423 19.32 1224
Oak Bay-Gordon Head 17982 73.08 6624 26.92 2299
Okanagan-Boundary 10627 77.94 3008 22.06 2013
Okanagan East 16477 81.05 3852 18.95 2324
Okanagan-Penticton 15529 78.04 4369 21.96 2299
Okanagan-Vernon 16602 79.65 4242 20.35 2206
Okanagan West 20447 80.58 4929 19.42 2480
Parksville-Qualicum 18866 79.54 4852 20.46 2499
Peace River North 7897 82.66 1657 17.34 1275
Peace River South 9706 86.15 1561 13.85 1436
Port Coquitlam 19931 84.68 3606 15.32 1990
Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain 17662 82 3877 18 430
Powell River-Sunshine Coast 14294 77.4 4174 22.6 1606
Prince George-Mount Robson 8668 83.05 1769 16.95 1201
Prince George North 11553 83.09 2351 16.91 368
Prince George-Omineca 10170 82.66 2133 17.34 1139
Richmond Centre 13260 80.74 3164 19.26 1484
Richmond East 12764 82.34 2737 17.66 1757
Richmond-Steveston 13098 80 3275 20 1314
Rossland-Trail 11886 81.92 2624 18.08 1653
Saanich North and the Islands 18911 77.4 5523 22.6 1786
Saanich South 17153 79.15 4518 20.85 1527
Shuswap 15531 79.46 4014 20.54 2448
Skeena 8668 78.86 2324 21.14 1031
Surrey-Cloverdale 18698 84.27 3490 15.73 1726
Surrey-Green Timbers 15171 86.88 2291 13.12 1869
Surrey-Newton 19214 85.88 3158 14.12 2296
Surrey-Whalley 12110 86.32 1919 13.68 1339
Surrey-White Rock 21702 82.62 4566 17.38 2622
Vancouver-Burrard 14233 79.22 3734 20.78 1613
Vancouver-Fraserview 13893 84.05 2636 15.95 2054
Vancouver-Hastings 13562 84.1 2564 15.9 2526
Vancouver-Kensington 13718 85.16 2390 14.84 2204
Vancouver-Kingsway 13033 86.16 2093 13.84 2463
Vancouver-Langara 14846 80.24 3656 19.76 1454
Vancouver-Little Mountain 16046 76.13 5032 23.87 2166
Vancouver-Mount Pleasant 11635 81.82 2586 18.18 2310
Vancouver-Point Grey 16536 71.62 6553 28.38 1623
Vancouver-Quilchena 15498 71.6 6148 28.4 1593
Victoria-Beacon Hill 15671 75.38 5117 24.62 2599
Victoria-Hillside 16102 79.59 4128 20.41 1976
West Vancouver-Capilano 16842 78.01 4747 21.99 1705
West Vancouver-Garibaldi 14168 79.01 3765 20.99 1376
Yale-Lillooet 11225 83.14 2277 16.86 1883
Total 1090023 80.89 257522 19.11 135363
Source:[9]

Question B: Initiative[edit]

District Yes Percentage No Percentage Rejected
Abbotsford 14335 84.78 2573 15.22 1900
Alberni 10084 86.36 1593 13.64 2080
Bulkley Valley-Stikine 8221 83.53 1621 16.47 1451
Burnaby-Edmonds 15944 84.35 2959 15.65 2727
Burnaby North 15359 84.9 2731 15.1 2556
Burnaby-Willingdon 18185 84.03 3456 15.97 2664
Cariboo North 9923 87.86 1371 12.14 1557
Cariboo South 10746 85.78 1781 14.22 1767
Chilliwack 16642 85.33 2862 14.67 2905
Columbia River-Revelstoke 10495 86.24 1674 13.76 1880
Comox Valley 18996 79.72 4833 20.28 2948
Coquitlam-Maillardville 18468 85.19 3210 14.81 2447
Cowichan-Ladysmith 16905 83.89 3247 16.11 2843
Delta North 16385 84 3122 16 1816
Delta South 16880 81.16 3918 18.84 1497
Esquimalt-Metchosin 17591 84.33 3268 15.67 2269
Fort Langley-Aldergrove 16000 85.95 2615 14.05 1611
Kamloops 15257 81.63 3433 18.37 1963
Kamloops-North Thompson 11212 82.13 2439 17.87 1453
Kootenay 12187 87.39 1758 12.61 2078
Langley 14244 85.42 2431 14.58 1994
Malahat-Juan de Fuca 15070 85.7 2514 14.3 2306
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows 20090 85.52 3401 14.48 2456
Matsqui 13963 85.35 2397 14.65 2995
Mission-Kent 12874 83.45 2553 16.55 2027
Nanaimo 16154 82.5 3426 17.5 2597
Nelson-Creston 13464 82.66 2824 17.34 2309
New Westminster 15731 84.07 2981 15.93 2435
North Coast 7759 84.05 1472 15.95 1498
North Island 12793 84.14 2412 15.86 1697
North Vancouver-Lonsdale 15275 85.51 2588 14.49 2100
North Vancouver-Seymour 18420 81.33 4229 18.67 1467
Oak Bay-Gordon Head 17701 73.38 6420 26.62 2784
Okanagan-Boundary 10611 80.36 2594 19.64 2594
Okanagan East 16854 84.98 2980 15.02 2819
Okanagan-Penticton 15560 80.7 3721 19.3 3662
Okanagan-Vernon 16961 83.65 3314 16.35 2775
Okanagan West 20684 84.23 3874 15.77 4298
Parksville-Qualicum 18999 81.66 4266 18.34 2952
Peace River North 7959 85.52 1348 14.48 1522
Peace River South 9759 88.86 1223 11.14 1721
Port Coquitlam 20260 86.99 3029 13.01 2238
Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain 17895 84.03 3402 15.97 672
Powell River-Sunshine Coast 14847 82.4 3171 17.6 2056
Prince George-Mount Robson 8588 84.64 1559 15.36 1491
Prince George North 11498 84.35 2133 15.65 641
Prince George-Omineca 10188 84.29 1899 15.71 1355
Richmond Centre 13347 82.71 2791 17.29 1770
Richmond East 12782 84.41 2361 15.59 2115
Richmond-Steveston 13222 81.97 2909 18.03 1556
Rossland-Trail 11989 85.17 2088 14.83 2086
Saanich North and the Islands 18816 78.37 5192 21.63 2212
Saanich South 17053 79.55 4383 20.45 1762
Shuswap 15661 82.58 3304 17.42 3028
Skeena 8987 83.63 1759 16.37 1277
Surrey-Cloverdale 18600 85.44 3169 14.56 2145
Surrey-Green Timbers 14733 86.38 2324 13.62 2274
Surrey-Newton 18928 86.18 3035 13.82 2705
Surrey-Whalley 11933 86.63 1841 13.37 1594
Surrey-White Rock 20960 81.74 4681 18.26 3249
Vancouver-Burrard 14232 80.18 3518 19.82 1830
Vancouver-Fraserview 13713 85.01 2418 14.99 2452
Vancouver-Hastings 13343 85.34 2292 14.66 3017
Vancouver-Kensington 13428 86.34 2124 13.66 2760
Vancouver-Kingsway 12688 87.26 1852 12.74 3049
Vancouver-Langara 14901 81.73 3332 18.27 1723
Vancouver-Little Mountain 16366 78.75 4419 21.25 2459
Vancouver-Mount Pleasant 11530 84.25 2156 15.75 2845
Vancouver-Point Grey 16972 74.38 5847 25.62 1893
Vancouver-Quilchena 15568 72.91 5783 27.09 1888
Victoria-Beacon Hill 15567 76.8 4703 23.2 3117
Victoria-Hillside 16146 81.58 3645 18.42 2415
West Vancouver-Capilano 16764 78.68 4542 21.32 1988
West Vancouver-Garibaldi 14258 80.45 3464 19.55 1587
Yale-Lillooet 11378 86.53 1771 13.47 2236
Total 1095100 83.02 223902 16.98 163906
Source:[10]

Aftermath[edit]

British Columbia's legislation made a referendum binding only on the government that called it. As the Socreds had been defeated, the incoming NDP government was not required to enable recall and initiative. Nevertheless, Premier-elect Mike Harcourt announced that his government would be bound by the results.[11] As a consequence, the Recall and Initiative Act was passed and entered into force on February 24, 1995.[6] In 1998, MLA Paul Reitsma resigned his seat when it appeared that a recall petition would be successful and he could be the first person ever recalled under the legislation.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Plebiscites and Referenda". Electoral History of British Columbia 1871-1986. Elections BC. Archived from the original on 2007-08-18. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  2. ^ a b Norman Ruff (1993). "Institutionalizing Populism in British Columbia". Canadian Parliamentary Review. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  3. ^ As spoken by The Honourable David Lam (1990-04-05). "Speech from the Throne". Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Hansard. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Justine Hunter (1991-09-06). "B.C. voters to face two referendums; Government dragged feet, NDP claims". Vancouver Sun. p. H9. 
  5. ^ Don Hauka (1990-07-06). "Plebiscite bill 'good democracy'". Vancouver Province. p. 4. 
  6. ^ a b c "Electoral History of British Columbia Supplement, 1987-2001" (PDF). Elections BC. March 2002. p. 60. 
  7. ^ Ian Austin (1991-09-06). "Questions unveiled; Opposition says exercise is a smokescreen to divert attention". Vancouver Province. p. 6. 
  8. ^ "Electoral History of British Columbia Supplement, 1987-2001" (PDF). Elections BC. March 2002. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  9. ^ "Referendum Summary". Statement of Votes. Elections BC. June 1992. Archived from the original on 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  10. ^ "Referendum Summary". Statement of Votes. Elections BC. June 1992. Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  11. ^ Justine Hunter (1991-10-19). "Early referendum count shows B.C. voters want power to remove, rescind, recall". Vancouver Sun. p. B9. 

External links[edit]