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Carolyn Bennett wrote as long ago as 2001 that:

Electoral reform can only be successful in concert with renewed democracy between elections, parliamentary reform and party reform… Political parties must be democratic organizations.

On March 3, 2011, in the House she spoke of, “the electorate’s scepticism about political parties” adding that “until we move on party reform, we are not going to get the kind of support (we need) for electoral reform.”

Whether parties are nominating one candidate or several, citizens want to know how candidates are going to be chosen. For this reason, Fair Vote Canada proposes that requirements for candidate nominations to be democratic should be built into the process; not by law (as countries like Germany do), but though the use of financial incentives.

Candidates in federal elections who get a minimum of 10% of the vote receive a public rebate of 60% of their election expenses up to the approved limit. We suggest, to ensure their legitimacy, that electoral reforms should be accompanied by changes to the electoral finance system requiring registered federal parties to nominate candidates democratically by vote of their registered supporters or members to be eligible for this rebate.

The introduction of party lists under PR options such as MMP or STV is not an obstacle, because parties can nominate several candidates democratically at once in much the same way as single candidates by vote in the district or local region. Depending on local geography, the process might include online voting.

The point of this recommendation is to reassure voters that the introduction of PR will not mean more power to party elite or undermine democratic processes in the choice of candidates. Democracy is the core of our mission. FVC feels that iron-clad measures of this sort should accompany whatever electoral reform is put forward.


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