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Majority support cited for electoral reform

Good turnout expected at St. Paul's Cathedral town hall
September 12, 2016 11:20 A.M.

Organizers of a town hall on electoral reform are hoping for a solid turnout at St. Paul’s Cathedral tonight, Monday, Sept. 12, after promoting the event over the course of the summer.

Organized by the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo electoral reform committee — a non-partisan group that says it's dedicated to the concept of making every vote count — the meeting is intended to gather input for the all-party Parliamentary committee looking at ways of changing the way Canadians vote.

The town hall begins at 7 p.m.

Murray Todd, a former federal Liberal candidate and one of the organizers, said they expect to fill the room with as many as 200 participants.

He said they would have welcomed input from Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod, who is unable to attend due to a caucus meeting back East.

“The idea is to get as broad a consultation as possible, so if she came, anything she could contribute would be useful,” Todd said.

McLeod said last month that she’s glad to see the local effort but suspects the Liberal government is trying to rig the process. She maintains there is strong constituent support for a referendum on electoral change and that changes should not be made without a voter mandate.

However, Todd said voters handed politicians a mandate for change in the October 2015 election. Combined support for the NDP, Greens and Liberals represents that mandate, he believes.

“I think we’re seeing a fairly decent majority is saying a referendum isn’t necessary,” he said. “In a way, we’ve already answered the question. Roughly 65 percent in the last election voted for change and they’re saying do it.”

If all major issues went to referendum ballots, there would be no women in Parliament, since voters would not have given it majority support in 1916, he said.

The Trudeau government has pledged to bring in electoral reform within 18 months of the election.

Launched in June, the all-party Parliamentary committee is reviewing a wide variety of reforms, including ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting.

Historically, the NDP and Greens have favoured a move to some form of proportional representation. Ranked balloting remains strongly preferred by the Liberals.

Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef visited B.C. last week as part of a national tour on electoral reform. Intended to reinforce the Parliamentary committee's work, the tour stopped at Kitimat, Vancouver and Saturna Island. The committee begins cross-country consultations on Sept. 19 with a stop in Vancouver, the nearest to Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, on Sept. 28.

A deadline for submitting briefs falls on Friday, Oct. 7.

Canadians who choose to submit a brief to the committee must meet the following criteria/conditions:

  • Only one (1) brief can be submitted per person and per organisation;
  • Briefs must not exceed 3,000 words (including the summary page and footnotes);
  • Briefs that are longer than 1,500 words must be accompanied by a summary; and,
  • It is recommended that within the brief the author present a list of recommendations and their relationship with the principles set out in the motion adopted by the House of Commons on Tuesday, June 7, 2016, outlining the mandate of the Committee.

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