Get on with electoral reform, now

Canadians have given the federal government a mandate: 63 percent of us voted to change the electoral system

Canadians have given the federal government a mandate: 63 percent of us voted to change the electoral system to one that is more fair, equal and democratic – a system that will make every vote count.

Seventeen million Canadians voted Oct. 19, 2015; 4.6 million for MPs belonging to the party that now holds a false majority. Millions of Canadians – more than two million each for the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats – have no representation in Ottawa. It is incumbent upon our government to fix this problem.

True Democracy – where all citizens have equal rights – isn’t easy. It’s difficult to set aside partisan stripes, listen, cooperate, compromise and build consensus.

It’s even more difficult in an unfair system, where some parties have been awarded more than their fair share and others have been denied their due support. Equal representation in the legislature should be the right of every citizen in a free and democratic society.

We are concerned that electoral reform is already in trouble before you have even started. If all options are to be considered a tight timeline must be followed. But since Canada’s new House of Commons first met Dec. 3 almost six months have passed and there is growing concern about the credibility of the process.

MPs have to remove their partisan hats, and govern on behalf of all Canadians. Embrace the true spirit of democracy and realize that Canada cannot truly be ‘back’ until all voices are at the table.

In a speech in Halifax, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We need to show, once again, that the Liberal party is not afraid to challenge the status quo, even if it means breaking with our own traditions.”

We are asking him, and all parties, to do just that. Please put your partisan differences aside, get down to the work the voters have asked you to do, and show the world that Canada is serious about evolving into a modern democracy that respects and provides voice to all voters.

Gary ShaulPresident, Fair Vote Canada