21 October 2008

Fair Vote Canada Calls Government on Electoral Reform

Fair Vote Canada calls on the new government and Parliament to quit the dithering and dodging on electoral reform: Commit to a citizen-driven electoral reform process before the next election.

When the new House of Commons is convened in mid-November, Fair Vote Canada says the first order of business should be a commitment to institute a citizen-driven electoral reform process, with a timeline that ends no later than the next election. The call for action was issued at a Parliament Hill press conference, where Fair Vote Canada was joined by Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

“How far does our system have to deteriorate before our political leaders address the appalling democracy deficit created by our dysfunctional voting system?” said Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada. “The lowest turnout in history, distorted results, seven million orphan voters, the Green Party with nearly one million votes being denied seats, the Bloc getting a million fewer votes than the NDP but far more seats – this is not democracy and it is not tolerable.”

“First-past-the-post was developed in the 11th century, when people believed the earth was flat,” said Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada. “When it was first used in Canada, leeching was still considered a cutting-edge medical practice. Time has moved on but Canadians are still being punished by a dysfunctional voting system that is an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.”

Fair Vote Canada is calling for a citizen-driven federal reform process, with one model being the independent citizens’ assembly and referendum process used by British Columbia and Ontario. The process used by New Zealand in the early 1990s is another option: in a first referendum, voters indicated whether they wanted reform and also voted on their preferred alternative system; in a second referendum, they voted between their preferred alternative and the status quo.

“Mr. Harper said he intends to address the future of the Senate.” said Andy Blair, Vice President of Fair Vote Canada. “Last year, Senator Hugh Segal and others floated the idea of a national referendum on abolishing the Senate. If Mr. Harper proceeds with such a referendum that is an opportunity to add a referendum question on electoral reform for the House of Commons.”

“The next Parliament will be judged by the Canadian people on whether it continues the do-nothing path of past Parliaments, or if it finally recognizes the urgent need to give Canadians equal votes, fair election results, and a truly representative House of Commons. With voters walking away from the system in disgust and young people concluding that voting has no purpose, Canada cannot afford a Parliament that sits on its hands,” said Blair.

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Reprinted from today's Fair Vote Canada media release.

If you care by electoral reform, please sign up to become a member of Fair Vote Canada or to volunteer to help with its campaign to reform Canada's electoral system.

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