Leading women’s organizations and advocates join campaign for proportional representation



Principle of proportionality most effective way to increase diversity in politics, say new supporters of Every Voter Counts Alliance

OTTAWA — A voting system based on the principle of proportionality is the most effective way to achieve greater diversity in Canadian politics, say new supporters of the Every Voter Counts Alliance committed to increasing the representation of women and visible minorities in the House of Commons.

Following the announcement of a parliamentary committee to study electoral reform with a special emphasis on gender equity and inclusiveness, a growing number of supporters have come on board the campaign for proportional representation. The government has committed to tabling legislation by next April to scrap Canada’s winner-take-all majoritarian system before the next federal election in 2019.

“It is time to get an electoral system that respects the common will, equality between women and men, diversity and regions,” says Mélanie Sarazin, president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec.

“We must change our archaic voting system. When it comes to women's representation, the status quo is not acceptable. The Minister thinks that our electoral reform must lead to the adoption of a system that is efficient and legitimate, that ensures that votes are justly reflected in the electoral results: only proportional representation can truly respect this key principle."

The federation is among one of the newest supporters of the Every Voter Counts Alliance. Other new supporting organizations working on behalf of women include the National Council of Women of Canada, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, and Réseau des femmes d'affaires du Québec. These groups join YWCA Canada and Groupe femmes, politique et démocratie, founding supporters of the Alliance, which has grown to 49 organizations since its February launch.

“The federal government says increasing the diversity of the House of Commons and politics more broadly must be one of the guiding principles of electoral reform. Evidence tells us proportional representation is the way to go to get more women into the House of Commons. We need parity in the House as well as in cabinet,” says Paulette Senior, CEO of YWCA Canada.

Adds Donna Dasko, co-founder and past National Chair of Equal Voice: “After the 2015 federal election, only 26 per cent of our Parliament is female – an increase of only one point over 2011. We must do better. An electoral system based on proportionality would be the best way to achieve this.”

Over 90 countries use a proportional voting system, including 85 per cent of OECD countries, such as Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark. Among the Top 10 countries in The Economist’s Intelligence Union rankings, eight have built proportionality into the voting systems used in their main legislative chambers.

“The federal government has promised to get rid of our majoritarian first-past-the-post voting system, so now it’s time to get on with designing a made-in-Canada proportional voting system. This is good news because studies show that proportional representation can improve the representation of women by up to 8 per cent. This would help improve Canada’s current 49th place in the world on women's political representation,” says Susan Eng, counsel to the National Pensioners Federation.

Adds Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants: "Proportional representation is a strong way to ensure that those who are under-represented in the Canadian Parliament, such as racialized people including racialized women, have a better chance of having their voice heard and included in our democracy."


For more information about www.everyvotercounts.ca, please contact Alliance spokesperson Willy Blomme, 514-699-4636, or media[at]everyvotercounts[dot]ca