UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of the use of plebiscites and referendums by the Province of British Columbia. Adams, Audrey Marilyn


This thesis is a study of the use of plebiscites and referendums by the Province of British Columbia to discover: why they were used; what were the advantages and/or disadvantages of their use; and what significance their use to the system of responsible government. Before any conclusions could be drawn on these questions, it was necessary first to define their place in political theory. Then it was necessary to examine each plebiscite to discover what its circumstances were; what, if any, pressure groups were active pro or con the subject of the plebiscite; how did the political parties react to the plebiscite and what degree of public interest was aroused by it. To obtain this information, research was conducted into private letters and papers of the premiers concerned, if available; leading newspapers for the periods concerned; party programmes and pamphlets if available; government documents and interviews with or letters from former party members and the staffs of the Chief Electoral Officer's Department; the Attorney-General's Department and the Provincial Secretary's Department. Most of the material used was found in the University of British Columbia Library, the Vancouver Public Library, the Provincial Library, the Vancouver Archives and the Provincial Archives. There was much more material available for the plebiscites of 1909, 1916 and 1920 than for those of 1924, 1937 and 1952. Where scarcity of material prevented the drawing of valid conclusions or observations, it has been noted.

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