Electoral Reform In
Updated January 2005
More provinces looking
to full representation
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island both make moves towards full
representation. New Brunswick will hold a referendum
on a possible move to a mixed member system. After the 2003 Prince
Edward Island electoral reform commission recommended copying the British
Columbia Citizens' Assembly model, an eight-member Commission on Prince Edward
Islandĺ─˘s Electoral Future will work to educate the public about alternatives
to a winner-take-all voting system.
British Columbia Moves Forward with Electoral Reform: The Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform recommended that British Columbians adopt
choice voting (known in Canada as the Single Transferable Vote or STV ) for their elections! Now the decision is up to the voters of B.C., who will cast ballots on in a referendum in the next provincial election, on May 17, 2005. To read more about this exciting development,
There has been much progress toward full representation in
Canada in the past year. Fair Vote
Canada is the leading organization working for voting reform in the country
and has summarized recent developments as well as highlighted
upcoming changes in an electoral
Recently, the issue of full representation has gained the
spotlight due to Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party. Layton
made the adoption of proportional representation a cornerstone of his reelection
campaign, advocating a referendum to reform the electoral system and adopt
proportional representation. Additionally, once winning reelection, Layton
has continued to push the issue by making the adoption of proportional
representation the number one condition of his support of a liberal minority
coalition in the parliament.
Canadian provinces that are currently looking into electoral reform,
Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and
On the national level, the Law Commission of Canada has an electoral
reform project that aims to spark public dialogue on the different choices
in voting systems, in partnership with Fair Vote
Canada. See also Maple
Leaf Web for a guide to voting systems and electoral reform, as well as Democracy
Watch, a Canadian group that advocates democratic change. Recent new
articles about electoral reform developments in Canada are available on our Full
Representation Around the World page.
Brunswick Commission on Legislative Democracy was charged with identifying
options for improving the provinceĺ─˘s electoral system in order to have an
improved, citizen-centered democracy. The
Commission focused on electoral, legislative and democratic reform
and produced a report with eighty-nine recommendations, ranging from fixed
election dates to independent redistricting, to the government on January 19,
2005. The report recommended that the province's voting system be changed to a
mixed-member system. Under this, 36 representatives will still be elected on a
winner-take-all basis from individual voting districts. In addition, twenty
representatives will be elected a much wider regional basis. These regional
seats will be distributed between the political parties so that each party's
share of seats in the legislature most accurately reflects that party's share of
the popular vote. The commission called for the recommendations to be put to a
referendum before the next election. If the people of New Brunswick accept the
mixed member voting system, it will be used in the 2011 election.
Ontario is looking into electoral reform and referring to
the BC Citizensĺ─˘ Assembly process as a guide. Read the news
Prince Edward Islandĺ─˘s Commission
on Electoral Reform began in January
of 2003, when Justice Norman Caruthers was appointed to lead an independent
commission to explore electoral reform in the province. He released a report
outlining four models for discussion in April of that same year. After some public
dialogue, a final report was presented in December 2003, which included nine
recommendations to be considered by the government of Prince Edward Island,
including that either choice voting or a mixed member system be seriously
a CBC article about the Commission's Report
and view a brief history
of electoral reform in the province. On January 18 2005, the Island's
Legislative Assembly put out a call
for citizens who wanted to be part of the eight-member Commission on Prince
Edward Islandĺ─˘s Electoral Future. The Commission's duties will closely mirror
those of British Columbia's Citizens' Assembly. The members will be drawn from
across the Island's geographical and political spectrum. They will be asked
- develop and conduct a public education program to increase awareness of
the present ĺ─˙first past the postĺ─¨ electoral system and an alternate
mixed-member proportional system as discussed in the Report of the Prince
Edward Island Electoral Reform Commission;
- develop a clear and concise plebiscite question on which electoral system
Islanders prefer; and
- recommend when a plebiscite on this matter should be held.
For information on electoral reform activities in Quebec,
see the Secretariat for
Reform of Democratic Institutions and the Mouvement
Democratie Nouvelle, which is dedicated to reforming the Quebec voting
system. Also, read a position
paper offered by the Committee on Institutions in 2002.
News coverage of Canada's push for
CBC News: New
Brunswick commission recommends proportional representation. Overview of the
New Brunswick Commission on Legislative Democracy's recommendations, and
reactions from politicians. January 19, 2004
Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform:
#8, Assembly Reaches Decision. The announcement from the
Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform of their decision to recommend that
British Columbians adopt a new voting system. October
reform proposes sweeping changes. An analysis of how a possible change to STV will
effect the local community
as well as an analysis of the merits of STV. October
CBC News: B.C.
voters to choose electoral system next May. Announcing
Citizens' Assembly for Electoral Reform recommendation to
change to STV elections will be put on the ballot for British Columbia's May 17, 2005
Vancouver Sun: Assembly
opinions devastating for B.C.'s electoral system. A discussion
of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform's current recommendation that a
full representation system be implemented in British Columbia. September
Island Tides: Citizens'
Assembly Faces Decision Time A report on the B.C. Citizens' Assembly
on Electoral Reform's consultations with the public. Although various
opinions were put forward, the majority favored a move to a full representation
system. September 9, 2004
Globe and Mail: 5
Provinces Consider Voting Changes. Although the effort to
switch to proportional representation in Canada at a national level may be
blocked, five provinces, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and
Prince Edward Island, are considering the adoption of proportional
representation. July 9, 2004.
Canadian Press: B.C.'s
Citizens' Assembly on electoral reform getting close to decision.
Discusses the different election systems that B.C.'s Citizens' Assembly
considered as well as the way the assembly will arrive at a decision.
Toronto Star: Putting
a New Face on Voting. If Canada would have used proportional
voting in their recent elections, the makeup of the new House of Commons would
have been different, though still divided. June 30, 2004.
Parties Squeezed in First-Past-the-Post System Have Change to Change It.
Many different groups in Canada want to make the switch to proportional voting
in an effort to have a more representative government. Several provinces
in Canada are currently considering election reforms. June 29, 2004.
Montreal Gazette: NDP's
Layton Ready to Play Central Role. NDP's Layton, who won in a
razor-thin victory in own riding, says that proportional representation will be
a key issue in the next Parliament. June 29, 2004.
Toronto Star: Editorial:
NDP to Play Key Role. Canada's New Democratic Party leader Jack
Layton hoped to gain coalition support of the Liberals in exchange for a
national referendum on the adoption of a proportional representation system.
June 30, 2004.
CBC News Online: Electoral
Reform: Changing the Way Government Is Elected. An analysis of
why Canada is exploring adopting a choice voting system for their national
elections. The article also highlights how this new system would work, as
well as its impacts on various provinces in Canada. June 2004.
The Globe and Mail: Proportional
Representation Aids Democracy. Canada's NDP Party is promoting
a switch to full representation for Parliament elections. June 24, 2004.
This Week: Kamloops
slated for citizens' assembly. Committee to convene on the prospect
of British Columbia embracing full representation. May 25, 2004.
Toronto Star: More
than tokens. Women aren't proportionally represented in Parliament,
something political parties are scrambling to address. May 25, 2004.
The Globe and Mail: Voter
satisfaction dropping, poll says. Nearly a third of he Canadian
electorate wants to switch to proportional representation. May 25, 2004.
CBC News Online: Electoral
system blamed for fewer female politicians. Because New Brunswick's
Parliament is only 13% female, an independent group has called for replacing the
current party nomination system with a party list ballot that would allocate
seats in proportion to the popular vote. March 3, 2004.
The Globe and Mail: Panel
to recommend proportional voting. The independent Law Commission of
Canada will recommend in a March report that the House of Commons adopt a full
representation system for electing members of parliament. Critics fear that such
a change would result in governmental chaos, while advocates hope that it would
solve some of the problems facing the nation, such as low voter turnout and
civic participation. February 2, 2004.
In Is Canada the
mature nation the PM says it is?, the same author, John Ibbitson,
then raises questions as to how politics would play out among the major parties
with a full representation system in place. February 2, 2004.
The Globe and Mail: PR
would have saved the PCs. This commentary advocates full
representation in Canada as a way to increase the representation of minority
parties and get more people out to vote. January 2, 2004.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Liberals
want to change the way Quebec votes. The Liberal Party, which has
majority control in Quebecĺ─˘s provincial government, have announced that it
plans to introduce some form of full representation in time for the next
election. The latest election was on April 14, 2003, and the next election
doesnĺ─˘t have a definitive date, as election terms are not fixed in Canada.
July 11, 2003.
Elm Street Magazine: The
Unjust Society. A womenĺ─˘s group in Canada discusses full
representation (proportional representation) as a means to allow more equal
representation for women in Parliament, and discuss the state of the womenĺ─˘s
movement in general. July 3, 2003.
CBC News Online: Is
proportional representation really on the agenda? Article discusses
various possible motivations for Quebec government to move towards full
representation. Multiple parties are interested, although not committed, and it
is not clear how strong of a full representation system will be put in place if
there is a change. April 1, 2003.