Referenda & Plebiscites
Referenda and plebiscites are opportunities for British Columbians to participate directly in politics and the legislative process. Each event makes citizen involvement possible in a different area.
A referendum is a vote on a matter of public interest or concern conducted under the Referendum Act or separate legislation for a specific referendum. The results are usually binding on government. A referendum is held whenever the Lieutenant Governor in Council (cabinet) thinks that an expression of public opinion is desirable.
Six referenda have been conducted in B.C. since 1991. In that time, voters have been asked to express their opinions on the recall and initiative process (1991), treaty negotiations (2002), the Harmonized Sales Tax (2011) and electoral reform (2005, 2009 and 2018).
Visit our Reports page for more information about past referenda.
A plebiscite is a vote on a matter of public concern, conducted under the Election Act, and may be binding on government. A plebiscite is held when the Lieutenant Governor in Council (cabinet) directs the Chief Electoral Officer to determine the opinion of voters on a matter of public concern. The government establishes the threshold for success and outcomes of a successful plebiscite.
Nine plebiscites have been held in B.C. since 1872.
Visit our Reports page for more information about past plebiscites.