Electing MPs who will keep their promises on electoral reform!
Following Justin Trudeau’s broken promise on electoral reform, Canadians who support proportional representation are more committed than ever to making every vote count!
In 2015, a strong majority of Canadians voted for parties that promised to make every vote count. More Canadians than ever are aware that our electoral system need to change. 39% of the vote should not equal 100% of the power.
The groundwork has been laid to deliver on this important promise – now it’s up to us to help make it happen.
In February 2018, the federal NDP passed a convention resolution committing them to make proportional representation a condition of supporting any minority government.
Fair vote Canada supporters have endorsed a 2019 strategic plan including the following objectives and strategies:
- A minority government as a path to achieve proportional representation.
- Electing enough MPs committed to implementing proportional representation or making proportional representation a condition of support for a minority government.
- Focus on explicitly endorsing one or more candidates in each riding – looking at a realistic best case scenario on a riding by riding basis.
- Endorsing candidates based not on their words, but on their party’s position foremost, and on their personal ACTIONS between 2015 and 2019. If they are an incumbent MP, did they speak up for PR after they were elected? Did they vote for or against the ERRE report, or choose to be absent?
- Focus on target ridings and form on-the-ground teams where there is a good chance of replacing an MP who is not supportive of PR with one who is.
- Use every opportunity to continue to raise awareness among Canadians – by grassroots work in communities, with allies, and on social media.
In 2015, three parties – the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens, representing 63% of voters – promised that if elected, 2015 would be the last election under first-past-the-post.
The NDP and Greens promised to implement proportional representation. The Liberals promised to end first-past-the-post, listen to expert advice and follow evidence-based policy on electoral reform, and to “make every vote count.”
Between June and December 2016, an all-party committee on electoral reform (ERRE) held meetings in Ottawa and in 19 locations across Canada, hearing from hundreds of experts from Canada and around the world and thousands of citizens, in person and online. MPs also held town halls, Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef held a cross-country tour, and citizens held community forums.
Results and Outcome of the ERRE
The results of consultations showed that 88% of the expert witnesses and 87% of the citizens who testified recommended Canada adopt a system of proportional representation. This was consistent with 13 previous commissions, assemblies or committees recommending PR. Read Fair Vote Canada’s submission to the ERRE here.
Finding no willingness from the Liberal members on the ERRE to keep their own promise, the NDP and Green Party members, in an effort to find a majority consensus in the committee’s report that would allow this important promise to move ahead, joined with the Conservatives in recommending a referendum on proportional representation. Most of the experts who testified to the ERRE did not support a referendum.
Unfortunately, the day the ERRE’s report was released, the 5 Liberal members held a separate press conference, recommending that the Liberal Party break its own promise to Canadians. Two days later Justin Trudeau reassured Canadians that he was still on track to keep this promise.
On February 1, 2017, new Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould informed the press that changing Canada’s electoral system would not be in her mandate. Justin Trudeau stated shortly after, “It was my choice to make”. Nation-wide protests followed.
In May 2017, the NDP, following a Keep the Promise national tour on electoral reform, put the report of the ERRE to a vote in the House of Commons. The vote was a final effort to give MPs themselves a chance to speak up and re-open the conversation.
Over the past 15 years, Canadians have repeatedly told pollsters that they support proportional representation. In advance of the vote on the ERRE’s report, Fair Vote Canada commissioned the largest poll ever of Canadians -a sample of over 15,000 people in 20 Liberal ridings – showing a strong majority of constituents wanted the Liberals to keep their promise and wanted their own MP to help make it happen.
Unfortunately, every Liberal MP present except two – Nathaniel Erskine Smith and Sean Casey – voted no. All NDP, Green and Conservative MPs present vote yes. Because the Liberals have a majority of the seats, this effectively killed the promise to end first-past-the-post and make every vote count in time for 2019.
In June, 2017, Justin Trudeau admitted that – despite his own campaign promises and reassurances to the contrary – he had always opposed any form of proportional representation and was only ever willing to consider what he calls “preferential ballot” (properly called Alternative Vote). Although ranked ballots can be used within proportional systems, Alternative Vote is a majoritarian (winner-take-all) system supported by only 4% of experts who testified to the ERRE. Expert testimony and simulations showed Alternative Vote would produce results in Canada even more distorted than first-past-the-post and would have given the Liberal Party an even bigger false majority in 2015.