As the federal election campaign seems about to kick off, we thought it would be helpful to review the stances of the various federal parties on voting reform. For those of us who will be voting in BC, here are our current recommendations of who to consider voting for:
Both the NDP and the Green Party have clearly committed themselves to ending our current unfair Single Member Plurality (SMP) voting system, so Fair Voting BC gives them a green light:
The NDP announced earlier this year that “an NDP government would introduce proportional representation by the next election.” The NDP also introduced a bill in Parliament last December that read: “(a) the next federal election should be the last conducted under the current first-past-the-post electoral system which has repeatedly delivered a majority of seats to parties supported by a minority of voters, or under any other winner-take-all electoral system; and (b) a form of mixed-member proportional representation would be the best electoral system for Canada.” Although this bill did not pass, MPs from 5 of the 6 parties (all except the Conservatives) voted in support of it.
The Green Party’s platform states that they intend to: “Legislate the end of first-past-the-post voting; establish immediately an all-party Democratic Voting Commission to review past research and conduct a public consultation on the style of proportional representation best suited to Canada. We will instruct it to make recommendations to Parliament for the necessary democratic voting reform, including draft legislation, within 12 months”. [full policy resolution here]
The Liberal Party is not committed to implementing proportional representation, but has promised to review a variety of electoral reforms including PR. Their policy states that “immediately after the next election, an all-Party process [will] be instituted, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with recommendations for electoral reforms including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent Canadians more fairly and serve Canada better.” [full policy resolution here]
Although Justin Trudeau has explicitly stated both his opposition to PR and his preference for the non-proportional Alternative Voting system (i.e., using a preferential ballot to elect MPs in single-member districts), a number of individual Liberal MPs and candidates do support proportional representation. Most notably, BC MP Joyce Murray made PR a central plank in her bid for the Liberal Party leadership a couple of years ago, and both she and BC’s other Liberal MP, Hedy Fry (along with a bare majority of Liberal MPs across the country), supported last December’s motion by the NDP to implement MMP. Fair Voting BC has been working with Fair Vote Canada to collect commitments from individual Liberal Party candidates regarding electoral reform (Trudeau is allowing them to make up their own minds on this issue) and will publish this list shortly; we recommend that you only vote for Liberal party candidates who explicitly support PR, not just the process of review that is their party policy.
The Conservative Party announced last week that they would “commit to legislation that would ban any government from changing our voting system without holding a referendum to secure the approval of Canadians first”, and that they would make no changes to first-past-the-post, saying “Changing the way Canadians elect their government is not a priority.” Given this clear signal that the party leadership thinks no change is necessary, and that no BC candidate has spoken out against this policy, Fair Voting BC cannot at this time recommend voting for anyone from the Conservative Party.
In the coming weeks, we will be sending out more frequent updates discussing issues particularly relevant to the election campaign. Stay tuned!