Democracy commission to release report
Published September 8th 2004 in CBC

FREDERICTON  —  New Brunswickers will soon be debating whether to change the way they vote in provincial elections when the commission on legislative democracy releases its interim report later this month.

The commission was appointed to suggest ways to improve New Brunswick's democratic system, because voter turnout has been declining.

Members were asked to suggest what kind of proportional representation system would be best for New Brunswick. That's a system common in Europe, in which parties win seats based on the percentage of the vote they receive.

Commission co-chair Lorne McGuigan says that makes sense to a lot of people he knows. "The idea that the number of seats that a party gets should be roughly proportional to the number of votes it gets is fairly attractive."

But the recommendation won't be for a pure proportional system. The commission is required to keep some type of riding system in whatever it proposes.

Conservative MLA Kirk MacDonald is nervous about the idea because it could create two classes of MLAs – those who represent ridings and tthose elected "proportionally," who wouldn't have to worry about local issues like rural road repairs. "They wouldn't be answerable to a particular geographic area of the province, as are MLAs at the present time."

Premier Bernard Lord has said any plan to change the province's electoral system would likely be put to a referendum vote.