Liberals reject electoral reform in House of Commons vote

The Ottawa chapter at an electoral reform rally on Parliament Hill earlier this week.

The Liberal government voted against electoral reform in the House of Commons today - breaking a key promise they made during the October 2015 federal election.

159 Liberals voted against electoral reform, while 146 opposition party members - Conservative, NDP, Bloc and Green MPs - voted in favour. There were only two Liberal Members of Parliament - Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches-East York) and Sean Casey (Charlottetown) - who voted in favour of electoral reform.

On December 1, 2016, the all-party Special Committee on Electoral Reform presented its report to the House of Commons. It 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."

This afternoon's vote was on a motion to concur with the recommendations in the Special Committee's report.

Liberal MPs voting against the motion broke an explicit election promise.

The Liberal platform in 2015 stated, "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."

Over the past four weeks, Council of Canadians chapters mobilized for this vote with actions including:

  • Halton chapter rallies for electoral reform at Towne Square prior to House of Commons vote
  • Ottawa chapter joins rally for electoral reform on Parliament Hill
  • Hamilton chapter meets with 5 MPs to ask them to vote for electoral reform on May 31
  • Halton chapter asks Liberal MP John Oliver to vote for electoral reform on May 31
  • Fredericton chapter & allies challenge Liberal MP Matt DeCourcey on electoral reform
  • London chapter calls on Liberal MPs Young & Fragiskatos to back electoral reform
  • Edmonton chapter calls on Liberal MP Sohi to back electoral reform
  • Guelph chapter calls on Liberal MP Longfield to keep his promise on electoral reform
  • Toronto chapter holds forum on electoral reform in lead-up to May 31 House of Commons vote
  • Quill Plains and Prince Albert chapters encourage calls to 43 Liberal MPs on electoral reform

The Council of Canadians is committed to holding the Liberals accountable for the betrayal of this election promise.

The next federal election will take place on October 21, 2019.