OTTAWA--The Broadbent Institute congratulates members of the electoral reform committee for rolling up their sleeves and finding common ground on something so vital as Canada’s electoral system. This majority report is a road map for the Liberal government to make good on its clear and oft-repeated electoral reform promise. We now call on the Liberals to work with the other parties to design a path forward that finally brings Canadians the modern and effective voting system we deserve.
The special parliamentary committee on electoral reform was created in June to study alternatives to our current first-past-the-post system after the Liberal government promised that the 2015 federal election would be the last one using this voting system. Minister of Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef kicked off the proceedings by testifying about why Canada’s “antiquated” electoral system needed to be replaced.
It was “designed to meet the realities of 19th century Canada, and not designed to operate within our multi-party democracy," Monsef told the committee. "We require an electoral system that provides a stronger link between the democratic will of Canadians and election results."
The large majority of expert witnesses who appeared before the committee agreed that our current system is past its best before day, and recommended that Canada join the majority of the world’s democracies and incorporate the principle of proportionality into our voting system. This expert advice, reinforced by the overwhelming support for proportional representation (PR) by Canadians who attended MP town halls and spoke at open mic sessions hosted by the special committee, is reflected in the majority report’s recommendation that Canada adopt a system of proportional representation that incorporates local representation.
Specifically, we commend the committee for recommending a PR model guided by the Gallagher Index, used to measure the proportionality of an electoral outcome. In this case, an index of 5 or less is a sensible guide to shape a PR system in Canada that incorporates local representation.
It’s now up to the Liberals to seize this opportunity to make Canada’s voting system truly fair and democratic. The majority report is a reflection of leadership and cooperation, with the strong recommendation for PR rooted in the best available evidence. Wouldn’t it be ironic — and tragic — if the Liberals now ignored this consensus in order to break their promise to “make every vote count"?