FVC Statement on Partisanship
Version of November 16, 2019. This is an updated version of the document approved by FVC on September 22, 2019.
Fair Vote Canada (FVC) is a non-partisan organization. Our purpose is to apply the most basic principle of democratic representative government and ensure the right of each citizen to equal representation in our legislatures regardless of political views and party affiliation.
Electoral system reform poses particular challenges because it has to be implemented by governments who have been brought to power under the existing system and are resistant to change. Even when party leaders are supportive, they may lose the support of caucus members whose chances of reelection might be reduced under a different electoral system.
Yet, short of a successful court challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the only way to succeed in our mission is to get enough sitting legislators (MPs or provincial legislators as the case may be) to vote for it.
Typically, only some parties are in favour of electoral reform at any particular time. However, we acknowledge that reforming our electoral system requires widespread support across party lines and is unlikely to happen without a broad base of support.
FVC seeks to build cross-party support for proportional representation and endeavours to engage with all political parties. We welcome supporters of all political stripes who share our democratic aspirations.
As an advocacy organization, FVC has experimented with different approaches and has been involved in lobbying activities across the whole spectrum of political parties.
We were very active as part of the public discussions federally in 2016. Provincially, we have been active in all of the provincial discussions and most referendums on proportional representation. We have contributed significantly to public education through those processes.
Ultimately, however, it is from our elected representatives that change has to come, and FVC’s change strategy of necessity involves work at the political party level. Depending on the circumstances, we may strategically and actively support particular parties and candidates.
Activities along these lines may include:
- working within different party structures to influence their policy positions on proportional representation;
- encouraging supporters to get involved in leadership and local nomination races;
- promoting or opposing party positions on PR;
- endorsing candidates and encouraging FVC supporters to work for them;
- advertising in support of pro-PR candidates and against opponents;
- highlighting and amplifying the voices of prominent individuals who speak out or take action for proportional representation.
Fair Vote Canada as a Third Party Advertiser
In the 2015 federal election, FVC became more active than in the past, by posting information on candidates’ positions on PR. Although we registered as a third party, we did not engage in political advertising to any significant degree.
To date, we have not registered as a third party in any provincial elections.
FVC registered as a third party in April 2017 when four by-elections were held, shortly after the broken promise by the Liberals to make 2015 the last first-past-the-post federal election. Our campaign in these by-elections involved publicly endorsing candidates from the NDP and the Green party and spending third-party funds on advertising for the first time. Emphasis was on the Ottawa-Vanier by-election, with a flyer-drop of 15,000 flyers and postcards targeting the broken promise.
FVC used a similar approach on a much larger scale to help elect pro-PR candidates in 21 swing ridings in the 2019 federal election. Candidates could be from any party, but FVC only supported candidates who had demonstrated a commitment to proportional representation through their actions or whose party has a strong position for PR. In practice, this consisted primarily of NDP and Green Party candidates. However, we endorsed some candidates from the Liberal Party, two Independent candidates and one from the People’s Party of Canada.
In Quebec, we supported the NDP and Green Party candidates in two swing ridings. In a third riding where the Bloc Québécois was a leading candidate (Hochelaga), we acknowledged the Bloc’s expressed support for PR, even though the party did not campaign on the issue.
Where more than one candidate or party has taken a clear pro-PR position, FVC does not normally favour one over the other, as we consider our role to be primarily one of helping voters to make an informed choice and do not want to alienate any of our supporters. We are prepared to to highlight candidates who have been particularly supportive of PR.