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Fair Vote Canada condemns the omission of a Minister of Democratic Institutions from the cabinet appointments announced today. With a large segment of Canadians unrepresented in government and a widening divide between regions, Canadians need a Minister tasked with fixing the precarious state of our democracy. 

In 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged the strength of public support for electoral reform, stating:

“Canadians responded positively and massively to us and to the other parties who were saying they were going to change our electoral system. You can see there’s a fairly clear desire out there to improve our electoral system.”

This high level of public support for electoral reform was confirmed by a September 2019 Angus Reid poll showing that 77% of Canadians — and 80% of Liberal voters — support proportional representation, where the seats a party receives closely align with their level of popular support.

This election saw the Liberals form government with 33% of the popular vote – the lowest in Canadian history. With first-past-the-post, many Canadians resorted to strategic voting for the Liberals to avoid what they considered a worse alternative. This has the perverse effect of electing more MPs from parties who do not (or no longer) support electoral reform.

Equally concerning, the one -third of voters from Alberta and Saskatchewan who didn’t vote Conservative have almost no representation in Parliament and these two provinces find themselves shut out of government. While Trudeau’s appointment of Anne McLellan as an advisor to cabinet acknowledges the problem, it is merely a bandaid on a gaping wound.

Fair Vote Canada calls for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform

Trudeau broke his promise on electoral reform citing a lack of consensus, despite the fact that almost 90% of the experts and citizens who testified to the ERRE supported proportional representation. 

Our country needs a path forward to improving our democracy.

In order to take the decision on electoral reform out of the hands of politicians, Fair Vote Canada is calling for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. Citizens’ Assemblies are gaining traction around the world as a way to empower citizens and enable politicians to move forward on complex issues. A September 2019 Angus Reid poll showed 79% of respondents think this government should convene a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

Participants in a Citizens’ Assembly would be selected by stratified random sample, using a civic lottery 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 peers. The recommendations of a Citizens’ Assembly could legitimately be implemented by Parliament in time for the next scheduled election.

Says Fair Vote Canada’s President, Real Lavergne, “Trudeau’s failure to follow through with democratic reform in view of the current divisions in our country is unacceptable. Canadians deserve better.”

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