Electoral Reform Committee Into Final Talks
Prince George, B.C. – Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen says the Electoral Reform Committee is into its final day of discussions with the other political parties “We are making progress, but there is a lot yet to be done.”
He says consultation with Canadians has made it clear voters want a proportional voting system. He says a new bill tabled today will “open the door back up to almost a million Canadians who were denied the right to vote over the last little while. Being ex-patriot Canadians living abroad allows, once again, Elections Canada to encourage Canadians to vote.”
Cullen says many of the changes are aimed at undoing what the Harper Government had implemented with the unfair Elections Act. “One significant change allows yong Canadians to pre- register. Canadians 14-17 can register to vote. They can’t vote, but they are on the register and hopefully that will lead to greater voter participation of young Canadians.”
There is still a great deal of work to do says Cullen, and hopes the Trudeau Government will follow through on the promise made that there will be electoral reform before the next Federal Vote. Cullen says the Committee has made it clear that while they can’t design the new system “We’ve told the Government we want to work with them so that what happens is fair.”
As soon as the Committee has done it’s work, the matter will be in the hands of the Government “The Liberals have a promise that we are trying to help them meet” says Cullen who says the signals from the Federal Minister would suggest “She would like to ignore all the evidence that disagrees with her own conclusions.” He says questions about how one confirms a new voting system, whether it be through referendum, assembly or vote in Parliament, the pressure will be on the Federal Government ” to follow through on those recommendations and their promise to Canadians.”
Cullen says its difficult to say if all the proposed changes could be in place in time for the next federal ballot “It’s sort of like saying, could you be ready to go on vacation tomorrow morning. It all depends on the vacation. I could go on that trip but how complicated is the trip? If we make it pretty straight forward, which we think we have some options we can absolutely get it done. One of the things we are open to is doing this in stages. One election would see a certain amount of changes, the next one would bring the next round, to make sure Canadians are familiar with it and also to make sure Elections Canada is very comfortable implementing it. We aren’t looking for any shocking change here, we think there is a really respectful way to bring about the change Canadians want.”
A shocking change would be going to proportional representation and stealing local representation from rural Canada. That idea just can not fly in Canada and I find it hard to believe any Canadians would support that once they knew what it involved.
Proportional representation doesn’t even work in small compact countries like Israel and Italy. It enables a divide and conquer politics based on what divides society and not what brings us together. It’s a form of classifying voters based on race, religion, gender, and other dog whistle type politics and stagnates any nation that uses it. The only ones that
Iike proportional representation are closet communists that could never get elected otherwise.
I think the idea is to have a system that retains our representative Westminister democracy for the vast regions that make up our country; and to do this with the unity and legitimacy of government we get from having politicians directly elected by a majority of their constituents. As it’s the draw to the middle and the legitimacy of a majority that gives us the middle class oriented moderate governance we expect.
Electing our government with a transferable ballot that requires a majority to get elected could be implemented immediately. It involves no imalgimation of ridings. It enables independents to run in a local riding and get elected as the common second choice of the consensus. The transferable ballot is the chosen method of electing party leaders in all mainstream parties in Canada including the ndp for their leader (it’s good enough for their internal leadership elections, but not for Canadians electing MP’s?) The transferable ballot enables more independence of elected members from party whips.
The proportional idea goes against local representation and accountability. It requires ridings being redrawn to accommodate the list candidates that are not elected but rather appointed by the party insiders (the ndp will only accept proportional representation, but will not make public the details of their proposal). It empowers the parties to have total power over their members through their ability to make the party elector list or not. Proportional rep is not consistent with the Westminister style of government so would require a constitutional change to implement, and a constitutional change for PR will never happen so therefor no electoral change will happen.
Proportional representation enables any group with a five percent threshold to appoint a member to the legislature. This will include communists, fascists, sharia law advocates, gender based parties, separatist parties, environmental activists… And the cohesive ability for mainstream Canada to get anything done will be history and our country will disintegrate.
Cullen says: “consultations with Canadians made it clear….” – So, how many Canadians does this involve? I too, in ‘consultation with Canadians made it clear’ that those individuals want to retain the current system! Obviously we are of different minds – and so be it. But the statement attributed to Cullen indicates there is a strong desire for proportional representation voting – I don’t think so!
Nothing should be done about voting changes without a referendum. We cannot trust the politicians to come up with a credible system – each one would want to make sure their nest is feathered.
For once, I agree with the Eagle.
I agree, have a referendum and see what the majority of people really do want. Whatever new system the Parliamentary Committee comes up with, or retaining the one we’ve got. If that’s not satisfactory, then have a ‘transferable ballot’ referendum on it Where you can vote for each system in order of choice, or just one, or how ever many you want, first choice, second choice, third choice, etc. If no single choice gets over 50% of the first choice votes, then count the second choice votes, until one system does.
Personally, I’d like to see them leave the voting system alone, and stick with what we’ve got. First past the post is simple and serves us well. We get the odd dunderhead government, like the one we’ve got now, but it’s easy to get rid of them next time if they keep on their present course. The only possible ‘good’ thing if the Liberals use their votes in Parliament to make the change to whatever new electoral system they want, a future Conservative government, and sooner or later there’ll be one, (probably sooner!), can always change it back!
I think at the end of the day the transferable ballot is doable without any constitutional challenges. Its just strengthening the electoral mandate for the elected members in existing ridings.
However the proportional representation is outside of the definition under our current constitution. It would require a constitutional amendment to allow seats to be appointed by parties and not allocated based on the defined local area ridings. Its a complete change of the makeup of the legislature and how it derives its power and thus would not have legitimacy without a constitutional mandate.
I think if Trudeau is serious about electoral reform then he would stick to his original position of a transferable ballot that he could pass through with a simple vote in the Legislature and have it implemented in time for the next election.
Then have provisions through law for a referendum 2-years post election for the idea of proportional representation where voters get to see exactly what it is they are proposing (eg, threshold to elect 5%?, size of new ridings and how they would be redrawn to accommodate list candidates?)… this way an informed vote could be made on the proposal and not some vague ideas of utopia to be amended once the mandate is granted. If the referendum is a go to proceed, then the federal government could engage with the provinces to see if they have the political threshold to make the constitutional amendments that would allow for proportional representation.
The transferable ballot could be implemented tomorrow through a majority vote in the legislature. Proportional representation would have to follow through a lengthy constitutional crisis (eg separatist parties gaining permanent unaccountable list seats). So why do the ndp have a scorched earth approach to electoral reform unless they get their list candidates for party appointment… when surely most would all agree that a transferable ballot is still preferable to the status quo first past the post, and makes a good first step?
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