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Fair Vote Canada Newsletter

June 2004

The growing chorus of voices calling for proportional representation (PR) are finally being heard by Canada's media. Local media coverage has significantly increased, in large part due to the initiatives of FVC
members across the country. In just the past weeks, a number of FVC members have been interviewed for various news stories on CBC Newsworld and CBC's The National. On June 10, The National ran an extensive story on the growing demand for PR, clearly outlining the case against the current voting system. FVC's Dubious Democracy Report (see below) also received coverage in several syndicated columns and by other media across the country.

MARTIN FINALLY GIVES NOD TO REFORM

If you want evidence that peppering politicians with questions on PR can
pay off, consider that Paul Martin recently changed his tune. Martin has
repeatedly been asked in public forums about PR, most recently at a youth forum in St. John's on June 4. The following report is from the Toronto Star:

"Martin says he is willing to engage Canadians in a debate about electoral reform and whether a new model should be adopted. 'I think that's essential in terms of engaging Canadians, whether it's proportional representation, whether it's fixed-term limits, whether it's the role of MPs", he said citing recent studies on electoral reform in Quebec and British Columbia.  We can learn from what the provinces are doing and then we can make sure that when we proceed there will be no mistakes."

Jack Layton continues to state that a national PR referendum will be an NDP condition for supporting any minority government. The Bloc supports PR and the Conservative platform states the PR will be considered along with other democratic reforms. The Green Party strongly supports PR, as do the other parties not in Parliament.

DUBIOUS DEMOCRACY REPORT SHOWS DARK SIDE OF CANADIAN ELECTIONS

On June 1, Fair Vote Canada released a study of federal elections from 1980 to 2000, documenting how Canada has become a dubious democracy. As noted in the news release, "The data in this report puts a spotlight on the dirty little secrets of Canada's electoral system. What we say at the ballot box is not what we get. What we think and where we live determines whether our votes count. With a system like that, it's not surprising 40% of us are not voting - it's surprising that 60% still are."

The 15-page Dubious Democracy Report (available at www.fairvote.ca on the publications page) provides data and commentary on wasted votes (nationally, and by province, riding and party), distorted outcomes
(nationally and by province), phony majority governments, poor representation for women, and declining voter turnout. The report also includes a Letterman-style top-ten list of low points in Canadian
elections.

PEI PREMIER BINNS PROMISES REFERENDUM

PEI premier Pat Binns has promised Islanders a referendum on a new voting system. This is the third provincial government, following British Columbia and Ontario, to promise a voting reform referendum. In December, the premier received a report from PEI electoral reform commissioner Norman Carruthers, recommending a mixed-member proportional voting system for PEI.  The premier said he will set up an independent commission to study alternatives, develop a public education process, and draft a referendum question. The commission will have representatives from all political parties. Binns did not set a date for the referendum, saying that Islanders first need an opportunity to learn about and discuss the alternatives.

IT'S NOT TO LATE TO HELP!

FVC members and volunteers across the country are lending their energy and enthusiasm to our grassroots campaign to "make this the LAST unfair election!" It's not too late to help. The volunteer action kit and campaign flyers can be downloaded from the publications page at www.fairvote.ca. If you have questions or suggestions, contact us at [email protected]


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