Largest annual progressive politics conference kicks off with call to bring fair voting system to Canada



Ed Broadbent warns 1,000 progressives of dangers of getting electoral reform wrong

OTTAWA — Broadbent Institute founder Ed Broadbent on Friday kicked off the country's flagship progressive policy conference with a call for progressives to make sure the next election is held under a proportional voting system.

Speaking to 1,000 people at the sold out conference, Broadbent called on delegates to seize this “once-in-a-generation opportunity for progressive change, an opportunity to ensure we have a fair voting system in which every voter counts, in which every citizen has a real opportunity to elect a candidate according to his or her values.

“Our current, terribly flawed system doesn’t achieve this. And one of the other suggestions on offer -- so-called ranked ballots -- would be even worse than what we have. Simply put, ranked ballots in a federal election would be like first-past-the-post on steroids – even larger false majorities, results even more outrageously torqued and even more unrepresentative of the popular will,” said Broadbent, part of a lineup of leading thinkers, policy experts and organizers on stage over the next two days at Progress Summit 2016.

The Liberal government has promised the 2015 election would be the last one conducted under a first-past-the-post system and has committed to introducing electoral reform legislation by next April. The 2016 federal budget sets aside $10.7 million to consult Canadians on voting reform to compliment the work of a Parliamentary committee.

Progress Summit speakers on Friday include feminist icon Gloria Steinem, New Republic Senior Editor Jeet Heer, Federation of Canadian Municipalities CEO Brock Carlton, Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Barack Obama ad maker John Del Cecato, Guardian columnist Owen Jones, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, and CNN political commentator Sally Kohn.

Saturday’s lineup includes a debate on proportional representation with Postmedia News columnist Andrew Coyne and Alex Himelfarb, the former clerk of the Privy Council (arguing for), up against Conservative MP Michelle Rempel and Tasha Kheiriddin,National Post and iPolitics columnist (arguing against).

France’s former Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, will also be speaking on Saturday. She resigned in January over a dispute over the government’s anti-terror policy. World renowned economist James Galbraith and BC NDP leader John Horgan are also speaking on Saturday.

The event began Thursday with a training day led by Sara El-Amine, the Executive Director of Organizing for Action, Barack Obama’s grassroots organizing movement.

The full schedule and list of speakers are available at Panels on the main stage are being live-streamed.


For more information, please contact Caitlin Kealey, Progress Summit 2016 media coordinator, media[at]mediastyle[dot]ca or 613-818-7956.