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Comox Valley chapter hosts public dialogue on electoral reform

The Council of Canadians Comox Valley chapter recently held a public forum on electoral reform.

They have posted on their website, “On Sunday, September 18, the Comox Valley Council of Canadians hosted an informative public dialogue on electoral reform. Participants, working together in small groups, used a selection of polling questions as the basis of their wide-ranging discussions. The consensus from the discussion groups was overwhelming in favour of some form of proportional representation (PR) when electing members of parliament. It was deemed essential that all votes be equal. Participants agreed the essence of PR is having the percentage of votes received during the election directly reflected by the number of seats held by a political party.”

And the chapter highlights, “A report from the meeting was sent to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.”

During the last federal election, the Liberals 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.”

Now various processes are underway including a cross-country tour with the federal minister of democratic institutions Maryam Monsef, and the opportunity to submit a brief, complete an online consultation, and request to appear before the multi-party House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

In terms of the timeline for electoral reform, upcoming dates include:

  • August 29 – October 1 – the federal minister of Democratic Institutions will travel to twenty-two communities to discuss electoral reform

  • September – the Special Committee on Electoral Reform’s ‘national engagement process’ including written submissions, committee travel, online suggestions begins

  • September – MP town hall meetings

  • October 1 – deadline for MPs to send their submissions from the town halls to the committee

  • October 7 – deadline for the general public to complete an online submission, request to appear, submit a brief to the committee

  • December 1 – the committee reports to the House of Commons

  • May 2017 – the deadline for the Liberals to introduce legislation on electoral reform

  • October 21, 2019 – the next federal election under a new electoral system

You can read more on the Special Committee on Electoral Reform here. The schedule for Monsef’s cross-country consultation tour can be found here. While the Liberal election pledge presented the choices as “ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting”, media reports have indicated the choices up for discussion at the Monsef consultations are “mixed electoral, proportional representation and plurality or majority systems.” Our ally Fair Vote Canada is working on a fact sheet to help navigate this and we will share that widely when it becomes available.

The Council of Canadians has long-endorsed proportional representation and is critical of the current first-past-the-post system.