Victoria chapter attends electoral reform consultation with federal minister

2016 October 30, by Chapter Council

By Brent Patterson

The Council of Canadians Victoria chapter participated in a consultation on electoral reform with the Minister of Democratic Institutions last night.

The Government of Canada website had noted, “October 27th, 2016 – Federal electoral reform community dialogue tour with Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef, 7:00PM – 9:00PM, Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites – McKenzie Room, 345 Quebec Street, Victoria, BC.” And a government media release highlighted, “Media representatives are advised that the Minister of Democratic Institutions, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, will be in Victoria to host a public dialogue on federal electoral reform with local residents. The Minister will meet with Canadians and stakeholders to hear their thoughts on electoral reform directly and discuss how we can improve Canada’s electoral system and our democracy.”

In the October 2015 federal election, the Liberal platform promised, “We will make every vote count. We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system. We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting. This committee will deliver its recommendations to Parliament. Within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.”

Twenty-seven chapters have engaged in various forms of consultation on electoral reform over the last year to promote their support for proportional representation:

  • Presenting to/ attending a meeting of the Special Committee on electoral reform: Fredericton, Prince Albert, Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island
  • Attending a consultation with Maryam Monsef: Quinte, Northwest Territories, Peterborough, Quill Plains (Wynyard), Regina, Thunder Bay, Montreal, Victoria
  • Attending MP town halls: Northumberland County, London, Quinte, North Shore, Saskatoon, Campbell River, Calgary, Guelph, Ottawa, Kelowna, Mid-Island
  • Meeting with their MPs: Hamilton, Guelph, Nelson, Penticton, London, Peel, Peterborough, Quinte, Kelowna
  • Organizing their own public event: North Shore, Hamilton, Quinte, Brandon-Westman, Comox Valley, Guelph

Chapters have also handed out leaflets, published articles in local newspapers, held workshops, and worked closely with our ally Fair Vote Canada.

On the first anniversary of his election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented, “Under Mr. Harper, there were so many people who were unhappy with the government and his approach that people said, ‘We need electoral reform in order to stop having governments we don’t like’. However, under the current system, they now have a government with which they are more satisfied. And the thirst to change the electoral system is less striking.”

Following the public backlash against these comments, Trudeau stated the next day, “I think it’s important that a country as forward thinking and constantly improving and evolving as Canada is alert to opportunities to improve our systems of governance and the way we pick our governments. And that’s a commitment we made in our election that I continue to be deeply committed to.”

The Special Committee on Electoral Reform has now concluded its public consultations and will present a report with its recommendations on December 1. The Liberals have set a deadline of May 2017 to introduce legislation on electoral reform. The next federal election is scheduled to take place on October 21, 2019.