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Fair Vote Canada supports Green & NDP call for proportional representation

October 25, 2019 — Fair Vote Canada applauds the forthrightness of leaders of both the NDP and Greens in calling for proportional representation in light of the recent election results. Both parties recognize the importance of replacing our current system with a proportional one that more accurately mirrors the preferences of voters in the different provinces. A National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform would provide a credible mechanism for reaching consensus on this critical issue.

On election night Singh attributed the fractured, regionally-polarized results to a “broken electoral system” and reiterated his party’s commitment to fixing it. The NDP has long advocated for Mixed Member Proportional, a system in which voters elect both a local and regional MLA, allowing for most voters to have their voices heard in Parliament. It is used in Germany, Scotland, and New Zealand.

In a recent letter to the Prime Minister, Elizabeth May referred to Trudeau’s previous statements about proportional representation: “We have a proposal that we believe meets the concerns you expressed in February of 2017. That would be a system of Single Transferable Vote, with ranked ballots.”

May is proposing the proportional system used in Ireland, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, Scottish local elections and provincially in Winnipeg and Edmonton between 1920 and 1950. It was recommended by the BC Citizens’ Assembly in 2005 and features a ranked ballot in multi-member ridings. 

Trudeau is known to be a fan of ranked ballots, which is perhaps the reason May put that particular system forward in her letter to him.

Although most Canadians and an overwhelming majority of experts support PR, reaching consensus on a proportional system is tricky for politicians, whose views are often coloured by self-interest. Ultimately, it must be voters’ preferences that guide the decisions on electoral reform. Fair Vote Canada is advocating for a process that takes the decision out of the hands of politicians and places citizens firmly in control: A National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

Participants in a Citizens’ Assembly would be selected by stratified random sample to create a body that is demographically representative of the population as a whole, from each region of every province. The result: citizens working together on behalf of their fellow citizens. 

Starting this non-partisan citizens’ assembly process as one of the first acts of Trudeau’s minority government would send a strong message that the government is serious about inter-party cooperation. Perhaps even more importantly, it would enable the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly to be implemented before the 2023 election.

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