TORONTO – Will the Liberal Party of Canada commit to fixing Canada’s broken electoral system? As the Liberal leadership race begins, civic-action website Leadnow.ca is promoting a Liberal Riding Association’s petition to challenge the Liberal Party of Canada and its leadership candidates to advocate for equal effective votes and proportional representation for Canadians.
“More and more Canadians feel that our broken electoral system has robbed them of their right to be fairly represented in government,” said Jamie Biggar, Executive Director of Leadnow.ca. “When a majority of votes in an election are wasted, you have a crisis of democratic legitimacy and we need political leaders to step up in all of our parties.”
Leadnow.ca is injecting the democracy question into the Liberal leadership contest by endorsing and distributing a petition by members and supporters of the Liberal Party. It calls on the party’s leadership candidates to endorse equal effective votes and proportional representation in Parliament for all citizens of Canada.
The petition, launched by the Pickering-Scarborough East Federal Liberal Association, urges the Liberal Party to chart its path to a democratic voting policy using as a roadmap created by Law Commission of Canada in a detailed report published in 2004.
That report -- Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada -- was commissioned under the Chretien Liberal government. It recommended a system of mixed member proportional representation for the voters of Canada in Parliament.
The former president of the Law Commission, Nathalie des Rosiers, and the report’s research director, political scientist Brian Tanguay, are appearing at a town hall meeting in Toronto on Tuesday, October 2 (see attachment) to discuss the report ‘s recommendations and significance for today’s politics.
“Equal votes and proportional representation are not new thoughts in Liberal circles,” said John Deverell, petition coordinator for the Pickering-Scarborough East Federal Liberal Association. “Paul Martin acknowledged the democratic deficit. Jean Chretien introduced some proportional financing of political parties with the per vote allocation of tax dollars. Pierre Trudeau flirted with the idea of proportional representation as a way of getting more representation in Parliament for Liberal voters in western Canada.”
Furthermore, he noted, Liberal MP and former Liberal leader Stephane Dion, with the encouragement of interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, this spring published a discussion paper advocating a modified form of proportional representation.
Deverell said there are two compelling reasons for Liberals to call for an immediate departure from Canada’s total reliance on winner-take-all elections in single-member ridings. The Liberal Party is now in third place in public opinion, its voters badly underrepresented in nearly every province -- and at the same time it and the other opposition parties face a severe financial crunch as the per vote public subsidy pioneered by the Chretien government is withdrawn.
“For the sake of both voter choice and party survival, Liberals now need democratic voting more than we ever needed it before,” Deverell said. “We hope the party membership will instruct our new leader to make this a central Liberal commitment to Canadian voters for the 2015 election.”