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Special Committee on Electoral Reform meets, public consultation process to be launched soon

The Special Committee will be proposing to the House of Commons on December 1 a new way for Canadians to vote in the next federal election on October 21, 2019.

The “Special Committee on Electoral Reform” has now been formed and will have its first formal meeting on June 29.

The Globe and Mail reports, “The committee, whose opposition parties outflank the Liberals, had its first meeting on Tuesday [June 21] – an administrative gathering to chart the committee’s course over the next few months. …The plan for the committee will be finalized next week, after a subcommittee decides on scheduling and how the meetings will be structured – including [NDP MP Nathan] Cullen’s proposal for members of the public to submit questions by email or Twitter. The committee also intends to do some travel across country, and hear from witnesses… But the first order of business, according to [Conservative MP Scott] Reid, should be to call Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef, who is expected to do her own summer travel on the subject.”

The Committee’s members are:

  • (Chair) Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis) – Liberal

  • John Aldag (Cloverdale-Langley City) – Liberal

  • Matt DeCourcey (Fredericton) – Liberal

  • Sherry Romanado (Longueuil-Charles-LeMoyne) – Liberal

  • Ruby Sahota (Brampton North) – Liberal

  • (Vice-chair) Scott Reid (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston) – Conservative

  • Jason Kenney (Calgary Midnapore) – Conservative

  • Gérard Deltell (Louis-Saint-Laurent) – Conservative

  • (Vice-chair) Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) – NDP

  • Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie) – NDP

  • Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands) – Green

  • Luc Thériault (Montcalm) – Bloc Québécois

The newspaper summarizes their positions as, “The Liberals have promised an end to the first-past-the-post system, but what its replacement will be is up for debate. The NDP wants a more representative electoral system, as do the Greens, while the Conservatives are pushing for a referendum on the issue – a proposal supported by the Bloc Québécois.”

The Toronto Star has previously reported, “Under Monsef’s proposal, the committee would conduct a ‘national engagement process’ over the summer and fall months including ‘comprehensive and inclusive consultation’, including written submissions, committee travel, and online suggestions. …Alongside the committee’s work, Monsef is proposing that each member of Parliament be invited to hold town halls in their riding to discuss electoral reform.”

Earlier this week, the newspaper reported, “The committee agreed Tuesday to move quickly to set a schedule that could include meetings during July and August, with a deadline to report on their findings set for Dec. 1. The [committee] could begin hearing from witnesses after the Canada Day weekend, and there appears to be a willingness to sit through the summer if need be.”

Beyond that, we know:

  • June-September – committee’s ‘national engagement process’ including written submissions, committee travel, online suggestions

  • June-September – MP town hall meetings

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

The Council of Canadians is mobilizing its supporters to call for proportional representation. Our Guelph, Nelson, Penticton, London, Peel and Peterborough chapters have already met with their MPs to call for this.

We encourage our supporters to contact their MP (especially if they are a member of the Committee listed above), to participate in the “national engagement process”, and to attend the promised MP town hall meetings.

The contact email for the committee is ERRE@parl.gc.ca

We have long supported proportional representation. We believe it ensures a fairer representation of votes cast, and prevents a governing party from holding total power after earning only a small percentage of the popular vote, which is the case now with the first-past-the-post system. In April 2010, we commissioned an Environics poll that found that 62 per cent of Canadians support “moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections.” Additionally, we oppose the ranked ballot system of voting as a winner-takes-all system that is less representative of voters’ wishes than proportional representation.

For our numerous blogs on proportional representation, please click here.