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Hamilton chapter convenes call prior to House of Commons vote on electoral reform

The House of Commons is expected to vote this spring on the recommendations of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

The Council of Canadians Hamilton chapter convened a conference call with seven other chapters on April 12 to discuss electoral reform.

The focus of the call was an upcoming vote in the House of Commons and New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen’s tour on this issue.

The Canadian Press has reported, “Cullen says he will challenge 20 Liberal MPs to show up at meetings in their ridings to debate [electoral reform]. He also says those 20 votes would make all the difference if those MPs were to break with the prime minister.”

And the NDP note, “There’s one last vote on electoral reform in Parliament before the May deadline. This spring, MPs will vote on whether to accept the recommendations of the Canada-wide consultation tour.”

On December 1, 2016, the report of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform was tabled in the House of Commons.

Numerous Council of Canadians chapters made presentations to that committee and organized around those hearings.

The committee recommended “that the government should, as it develops a new electoral system … minimize the level of distortion between the popular will of the electorate and the resultant seat allocations in Parliament.”

CBC reported, “In a joint supplementary report, the NDP members of the committee and Green MP Elizabeth May recommend two alternative models: 1) Mixed-member proportional, with two-thirds of the House of Commons elected to represent direct constituencies and one-third elected as regional compensatory members. 2) Rural-urban proportional, a mix of urban ridings with more than one MP and conventional rural ridings with a single representative. An additional 50 seats would also be distributed across the country to make the result proportional to the national popular vote.”

And that article noted, “If a referendum is held, the three committee members argue, their two alternatives should be on the ballot alongside first-past-the-post, and Canadians 16 and older should be eligible to vote. But the New Democrats and May are not enthusiastic about a referendum: ‘While it remains an option’, they write, ‘we have serious concerns about holding a referendum on electoral reform’.”

By February of this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote in his mandate letter to the incoming Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould: “A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest. Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”

The Council of Canadians calls on the Liberal government to keep their promise that the 2015 election would be the last held until the first-past-the-post voting system and introduce legislation next month to ensure that a new voting system can be in place in time for the October 2019 federal election.

We also encourage our supporters across the country to contact their Liberal MP to convey your support for electoral reform.