By Chad Ingram
Published Dec. 8 2016
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale is pleased that a parliamentary committee on electoral reform is recommending a national referendum take place on the overhauling of the federal electoral system.
A report from the all-party committee which was tabled in the House of Commons Dec. 1 recommends a referendum on whether Canadians want to stick with the current first-past-the-post system or switch to some form or proportional representation which would have the makeup of the House more accurately reflect the way Canadians vote.
Schmale and other Conservative MPs have been calling for a referendum on the issue so the local rep is pleased with the result.
“What’s even better is the electoral reform committee worked really well” Schmale said adding its work crossed party lines and considered the input of months of consultations with communities across the country.
While some MPs hosted town hall meetings Schmale sent out a survey asking constituents
if they favoured a referendum. The committee’s report does not specify which form of proportional representation Canadians might be looking at.
The NDP and Green Party are both proponents of mixed-member proportional representation
a two-tier voting system where voters cast two ballots – one for a party and one for a constituency representative.
While he is personally a fan of the first-past- the-post system of the different forms of proportional representation mixed-member is also the one preferred by Schmale.
“This is one I like better mainly because you still have individual ridings so people are still connected to their MPs” Schmale said.
Just what the government will do now is unclear. The Liberals seem unhappy with the outcome of the committee’s report with Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef quoted in national publications saying “I have to admit that I am a little disappointed because what we had
hoped the committee would provide us with was a specific alternative system to first past-the-post.”
However members of the committee responded that their mandate was to investigate alternatives not necessarily to make a recommendation on a specific voting model.
“She was either lying or she didn’t understand what the committee was doing” NDP democratic institutions critic Nathan Cullen was quoted in the Toronto Star .
Monsef who has called the idea of referendum on the issue “divisive” apologized for her comments Dec. 2.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said in the past that ranked ballot is his preferred method of voting and many believe that system would most favour the Liberal party since it sits in the middle of Canada’s political spectrum.
A supplemental report from the Liberals last week suggested that Canadians are not engaged enough on the issue for a new system to be approved by 2019.
Trudeau has said previously that the 2015 federal election would be the last one to use the first-past-the-post system.