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Make Every Vote Count Press Conference

Fair Vote Canada Launches the Make Every Vote Count Campaign

Fair Vote Canada officially launched the Make Every Vote Count campaign September 19 on Parliament Hill, during Democracy Week in Canada. The goal of the campaign is to make a commitment to a more proportional voting system a key issue in the next federal election.

Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Critic for Intergovernmental Affairs Stephane Dion, Deputy Green Party Leader Georges Laraque, and Campaigns Director Matthew Carroll joined Fair Vote Canada’s Interim Executive Director Anita Nickerson and National Capital Region chapter President Julien Lamarche for a press conference in the Charles Lynch Press Gallery.

Mulcair spoke of the NDP’s longstanding support of proportional representation. “Canadians deserve to know that their vote counts, that every vote counts. We’ve never needed that reform, that renewal of our democratic institutions, more than we do today.” He emphasized that the NDP is seeking a mandate on this issue in 2015, and would work very hard to ensure the strong support of Canadians to move forward. The NDP’s official policy is Mixed Member Proportional representation for Canada, a model recommended by the majority of commissions and assemblies to date. “We are determined to see this through”, said Mulcair.

Stephane Dion spoke in favour of moderate proportional representation for Canada, such as his own model: Proportional-Preferential-Personalized (“P3”). “Our current voting system weakens Canada’s cohesion”, Dion stated. “It artificially amplifies regional support for parties, and makes the country look more antagonistic than it is. When you watch the election results on TV, you ask yourself, ‘Which part of my country will be out of the executive branch? Will it be the prairies? Quebec?’” Dion noted that the Liberal Party’s current policy, preferential ballot, “does not address the main problem I identified.” “I personally think the solution is moderate proportional representation, in addition to a preferential ballot.” Although expressing his own opinion, Dion stated, “We are numerous in the Liberal Party who think we need some proportional representation.” Liberals in favour of a more proportional system hope to shift the party policy at its’ 2014 policy convention. An April 2013 poll showed that 77% of Liberal voters support moving to a more proportional system.

Deputy Green Party Leader Georges Laraque spoke in favour of a more proportional system for all voters, pointing to the one million Canadians who voted Green in 2008 and received no representation at all. Laraque challenged the parties: “If you guys win, will you still change the system?” If not, “we are just going around in circles.”

Matthew Carroll, representing, a rapidly growing online community of over 300,000 , reinforced that achieving a more proportional voting system is one of three major issues Leadnow will be focusing in the lead up to the next federal election. Carroll described achieving a more proportional system as a fundamental prequisite to tackling the major challenges facing Canadians. “It’s going to be almost impossible to make progress on changes Canadians want to see while we have our broken electoral system, winner-take-all voting, and the divisions it encourages.” As Leadnow supporters organize on the ground in key ridings in 2015, they will focus on “getting out the vote for candidates who have the strongest position on the issues, and can win.” The overall goal of the campaign is to elect “a government with an unshakeable commitment to a fair voting system.”

Following the press conference, supporters gathered on the steps of Parliament Hill, where MP Paul Dewar, Georges Laraque, MP Raymond Côté, MP Hélène Laverdière, former Liberal Party President Sheila Gervais, Unitarians for Social Justice leader Frances Deverell, and Leadnow’s Matthew Carroll all spoke in favour of proportional representation and participated in a theatre activity with Fair Vote Canada volunteers.

Paul Dewar spoke of traveling to developing democracies, whose leaders are shocked that Canada uses a First Past the Post voting system, and ask him why. “Canadians need to push politicians on this”, said Dewar.

The three MPs and Georges Laraque all signed the Fair Vote Canada’s Politicians’ Pledge. Liberal MP Joyce Murray, who spoke at Fair Vote Canada’s National Capital Region AGM, has also signed the pledge.

Already the Make Every Vote Count campaign has generated thousands of new signatures on Fair Vote Canada’s Declaration of Voters’ Rights – over 25,000 signers to date, with a goal of reaching 100,000 by 2015. Recent polls show that 76% of Canadians favour adopting a proportional voting system.

Active endorsers of the Make Every Vote Count campaign include non-partisan experts such as the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Dean Nathalie Des Rosiers, and prominent Canadians from across the political spectrum such as David Suzuki, Maude Barlow and former progressive conservative MP Patrick Boyer.

“With First Past the Post, every federal election 7 million voters cast wasted votes which elect no representation”, says Fair Vote Canada ED Anita Nickerson. “Voting in a representative democracy should not be about making winners and losers out of voters – it should be about having our voices represented, more cooperative politics, and fair results in Parliament.”

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