Northwest Territories. Photo by MyYellowKnifeNow.
The Council of Canadians Peterborough-Kawarthas, Hamilton and Northwest Territories chapters recently participated in a cross-country day of action in support of proportional representation.
The Hamilton Spectator reports, “A group of Hamilton residents visited the office of MP Filomena Tassi to remind the federal Liberal government of its promise to reform Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system. Activists delivered a framed copy of the Liberals’ 2015 election promise to MP Tassi’s office on Main Street West. [Organizer Heather Yoell says], ‘In the past two elections, under our present system, parties with 39 per cent of the votes got a majority of the seats and 100 per cent of the power. We need to get beyond the divide-and-conquer politics of first-past-the-post by making every vote count.'”
MyYellowknifeNow reports, “A group of Yellowknifers demonstrated outside Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod’s office to say that they want the prime minister to honour his commitment to electoral reform. Justin Trudeau has been criticized recently for not moving forward with electoral reform. In June, he committed to changing Canada’s voting system, saying: ‘We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted on the first-past-the-post voting system.'” Those assembled left a framed poster of that commitment in McLeod’s office.
And in a campaign blog, Council of Canadians organizer Mark Calzavara writes, “The Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter joined Fair Vote Canada in a rally held outside the local office of MP Maryam Monsef, the federal minister of democratic institutions. The rally attracted close to 50 people advocating for proportional representation. This was in addition to the chapter holding on December 9th the first of many weekly vigils on proportional representation at Monsef’s office. The events will also include an appearance and dialogue session at Peterborough Square, three and one half blocks away, in the heart of downtown.”
The national day of action that took place on December 13 was organized by our ally Fair Vote Canada.
Over the past year, twenty-seven Council of Canadians chapters have actively been calling for electoral reform by attending a consultation with Monsef, attending MP town halls, meeting with their MPs, organizing their own public event, and by handing out leaflets, publishing articles in local newspapers, holding workshops and working closely with Fair Vote Canada.
The Fredericton, Northwest Territories, Prince Albert, and Prince Edward Island chapters presented to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform. That Committee reported on December 1. The majority report stated, “The committee recommends 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.” They also recommended that new system could be voted on in a referendum.
In contrast, the Liberal members of the Committee stated, “The recommendations posed in the majority report regarding alternative electoral systems are rushed and are too radical to impose at this time as Canadians must be more engaged.”
Then on December 5, the Liberal government launched a postcard campaign inviting people to participate in an interactive survey at MyDemocracy.ca. That survey has been widely criticized as vague in that people are not asked to respond to specific electoral systems or descriptions of those systems. To help you complete the survey, Unifor has condensed an analysis provided by Fair Vote Canada. When you fill out the survey, please use this summary to show the federal government you want proportional representation. The deadline to respond to the survey is December 30, 2016.
During the last federal election, the Liberals 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.