Questions By Members, 11 June 2015
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Electoral system re-examination

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday evening, as the Member from Charlottetown-Brighton has already informed the House, I participated in a forum discussing electoral reform on Prince Edward Island, a forum organized by our guest today, Matt Campbell.

Many Islanders expressed at this forum, and have done elsewhere, concern about the fairness of our electoral system here on PEI and the need to switch to something more modern and proportional. This government, and the Premier in particular, has talked about its commitment to democratic renewal.

A question to the hon. Premier: Might this commitment include reexamining our electoral system?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Government expects to, as is indicated in the throne speech, present a White Paper on Democratic Renewal prior to the completion of this sitting of the Legislature, and then for that work to be taken up and examine it, consider it, through consultation by a special committee of the House.

The precise question that’s being asked as to whether reform of the electoral system would be part of that examination, I think that’s quite reasonable to expect that that will be the case.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for a first supplementary question.

Mixed-member proportional system

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That was music to my ears. Given that many countries have now abandoned the archaic and the unrepresentative first-past-the-post electoral system, and the two commissions – the Carruthers Commission here on Prince Edward Island and the Law Commission of Canada federally – have both recommended replacing first past the post with a mixed-member proportional system, will this government commit to exploring this option for use in, perhaps, the next provincial election?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That’s a question that will be very much central to the white paper and the work of the special committee. We bear in mind that, in the case of Prince Edward Island, there was a plebiscite on this question in 2004 to which 63% of Prince Edward Islanders voted in the negative. That will also have to be a factor to be borne in mind when considering any scenarios, let me say, for electoral reform.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for a second supplementary.

Electoral system re-examination and electoral boundaries review

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think we all know that the political landscape has changed significantly since 2005. There were many shortcomings of that plebiscite and an incredibly low voter turnout of 35% on a place like Prince Edward Island. I wouldn’t put too much stake in what happened then. I think it’s a new day and it’s time for a new consultation with the public of Prince Edward Island.

Implementing a new electoral system would likely require electoral boundaries to be redrawn. Given that the review of the electoral boundaries is due to occur in the very near future, any decision to switch to a different electoral system would best be taken before or at least concurrently with a new border review.

Will this government commit to reviewing the electoral system before, or at least concurrently with, an electoral boundaries review?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On Friday of last week I introduced a bill to this House which would extend the period for the commencement of the electoral boundaries redrawing process, which is required by law, from 90 days to one year with exactly the purpose in mind that the Leader of the Third Party is raising, which is to say that the electoral boundaries redrawing would follow in sequence the work that would be done by, first, a special committee and then by this House as we turn our attention to democratic renewal.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

One Comment

  1. Bill Kays 17 June 2016 at 11:25 am

    We need systemic change. I encourage everyone to get out to vote on the electoral reform in November. The people need real representation in the Legislature, representation that more truly represents the views of all Islanders. Remember, in November, to vote one and two for both proportional options, and make first past the post number 5. Trudeau vowed that 2015 was the last year Canada would use the ‘first past the post’ type election. Let’s make our PEI government truly represent the people through proportional representation. Let PEI be the example for Canada and the world, rather than the laughing stock it is now by ensuring that we no longer waste the votes of our most valuable resource, our Island people.

     

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