Issue Summary #5 – Electoral and Parliamentary Reform

It is not uncommon to obtain a majority in the House of Commons, without earning a majority of the popular vote during a federal election.

Issue Summary #5 – Electoral and Parliamentary Reform

It is not uncommon for the governing party in Canada to obtain a majority in the House of Commons, without earning a majority of the popular vote during a federal election.

Critics of the ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system say it entrenches parties in power, impedes change that reflects the true will of voters, and leads to an adversarial style of politics.

Do you believe electoral and parliamentary reform would lead to better decision-making and increased participation in Canadian elections?

Paul ManlyGreen

Yes, I do. The Green Party is committed to electoral and parliamentary reform. Greens will establish an all-party Democratic Voting Commission with a public consultation on what the best form of proportional representation would be for Canada. This commission would report back to parliament with recommendations and draft legislation in 12 months. Proportional representation will increase voter participation in Canada as it has in other countries with this fairer system of voting.

The commission would also look at the undemocratic power of the Prime Minister’s Office; the difficulty faced by individual MPs in taking independent action on behalf of constituents; the use of prorogation to avoid political scandal; and the abuse of the Senate in voting down bills approved by parliament. Removing these would lead to much better decision-making in government.

Greens would also stick to fixed election dates, reduce the required $1,000 candidate deposit, and get rid of the top-down process in candidate nominations, making it easier for more Canadians to run for office.

Parliamentary reform includes changing the conduct of MPs in the House of Commons. I will never heckle or indulge in personal attacks. I will be transparent and accountable, posting all of my expenses on my website.

As a Green Party MP I cannot be whipped to vote as my leader dictates even if I don’t agree with it, as other MPs are forced to do. I will be free to speak my mind, vote my conscience, and represent my constituents. That is real democracy.

Mark MacDonaldConservative

Improvement in anything is an admirable goal, and any way to improve the workings of government must be given consideration. Finding the right balance is so important.

What is currently proposed would likely only produce deadlock for the vast majority of decisions, so that government would be reduced to a standstill on virtually every issue. Or, it could make the national government operate and function like city councils.

While he was in power, former B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell appointed a committee to try and come up with another method of voting. The result was an extremely complicated system that was never implemented.

The Conservative government has restored accountability in Ottawa by introducing the Federal Accountability Act, banning union and corporate political donations, limiting personal political donations, expanding access to information legislation, and creating new oversight bodies including the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

What the current system does allow is the ability for the governing party to make decisions as it sees best for the betterment of all. If citizens don’t approve, then they can choose another government at the next election. This is fair, and allows everyone to have a direct voice and choice about which party will govern next.

As Winston Churchill said: “Democracy is the worst form of government. . .except for all the others.”

No system is perfect, but the current system allows a team of people – a political party – to make decisions on behalf of the entire country, and empowers elected representatives to act in everyone’s best interest.

Sheila MalcolmsonNDP

After a decade in government, the Conservatives have eroded our democracy. Canadians look at Ottawa and they see scandals, elections fraud, debates being shut down, and a lack of decorum.  More and more Canadians feel left out of the political process. We can do better.

Conservatives formed a majority government with less than 40% of the popular vote. They don’t want to fix our electoral system and hope to benefit once again from its flaws.

The NDP is committed to making 2015 the last “first-past-the-post” election. We will introduce a system of mixed member proportional representation during our first term in office – in time for the 2019 federal election.

Instead of cracking down on electoral fraud, the Conservatives attacked Elections Canada and suppressed the vote of young and low-income Canadians with their “Unfair Elections Act.” We are committed to repeal the Act and fixing our electoral system to make sure that no eligible voter is unfairly blocked from casting a ballot.

Stephen Harper promised he would reform the Senate or scrap it. The Supreme Court has laid out a clear process for abolishing the Senate, but now Conservatives say they won’t even try to fix this discredited institution, now under criminal investigation for a spending scandal. Our position on the Senate is clear and principled position: we want it abolished and will work with the provinces and territories to accomplish that. It’s wrong to have this unelected, unaccountable body making laws for Canadians.

Tim TessierLiberal

Yes, I believe electoral and parliamentary reform would lead to better decision-making and increased participation in Canadian elections.

Liberals will reform the Senate: create a new, independent, non-partisan, merit-based process for appointing Senators; implement the recommendations of the Auditor General regarding expense claims by members of the Senate.

Amend those parts of the Fair Elections Act and repeal the Citizen Voting Act that make it more difficult for Canadians to vote.

Prepare youth to vote by supporting Elections Canada to educate and register young Canadians on the voters list when they turn 18.

Re-instate the long-form census, and make Statistics Canada independent.

Ensure independence and proper funding of government watchdogs, including the Chief Electoral Officer, the Access to Information Commissioner, the Auditor General, the Privacy Commissioner, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, and the Parliamentary Budget Office.

As a Liberal Caucus member I would have more free votes allowing me to provide better representation for the people of Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

The Liberal Party is committed to revamp the electoral process; replace the first-past-the-post voting system with a new approach such as ranked ballots or proportional representation; investigate and consider mandatory voting and on-line voting.

Liberals will bring forward proposed legislation to enact electoral reform within 18 months of forming government. We are making these and other actions to restore and improve Canada’s democracy, so that it is more open, transparent and accountable.