FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRE

back to The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRE

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag background
This is the twenty-fifth article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

[Guest Post by Fair Vote Canada]

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogues #1The all-party committee on electoral reform (ERRÉ) has just finished four months of expert and public consultations. They will make their recommendation to Government by December 1st.

Of the ERRÉ witnesses with a position on voting systems, 88% recommended Proportional Representation. This reinforces the findings from decades of research from around the world and of 13 previous electoral reform processes in Canada, including two thorough and impartial citizens assemblies.

When the Government launched the process without a mechanism for collecting empirical data, Fair Vote Canada, a multi-partisan advocacy group, started tracking the process very closely. We are releasing the results of our work to the media because we believe the process needs to be transparent and accountable.

(You can find key a list of results below with links our spreadsheets.)

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogues #@Despite a strong call for proportional representation across all of the consultative platforms, we believe reforming the electoral system could be in serious trouble based on recent comments from Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Monsef.

President Réal Lavergne expressed Fair Vote Canada’s concerns “We are worried that the Minister and the Prime Minister are saying that we cannot count on the government keeping its promise to make every vote count. Yet experts and Canadians have clearly expressed themselves in favour of proportional representation, which is what it really means to “make every vote count.”.

David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada , 2015 LPC candidate
David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and former LPC candidate (2015)

David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and a Liberal candidate in last year’s federal election adds “This is not the time for back-tracking. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Democratic Institutions have personally created a sense of hope in Canadians, building on the 2015 Liberal campaign promise of Real Change. Millions of voters believed that the government intended to keep its promises. We believed the political cynicism of the Harper years was behind us, and thousands of us participated in the government’s consultations in good faith.”

Merner says “Now is the time for the government to deliver on its promises.

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogue ERRÉ in CambridgeHighly regarded Conservative strategist and spokesperson for the Every Voter Counts Alliance, Guy Giorno, adds that “committee members must endorse what’s right for Canadians, not what benefits any particular party. Given the weight of the evidence before the committee, the only legitimate option is a recommendation for proportional representation. Let’s also remember that electoral reform was a major issue at the last election, and voters overwhelmingly supported parties promising change.”

The weight of expert testimony in favour of PR was echoed across the country in hundreds of town halls and public dialogues.

ERRE Info Session at Ayr Branch Library

Over the next few days the ERRÉ will negotiate a recommendation for a new electoral system for Canada. The final report is due on December 1.

Fair Vote Canada’s President Réal Lavergne explains that “Once that recommendation has been made, it will be incumbent on the minister to carry it forward and for the government to act on it. Leadership will be required to educate both the public and parliamentarians, and to champion the proposed reform.”

“Based on all the results of the expert and citizen consultations, the committee’s only legitimate option is to recommend in favour of proportional representation.”

Key indicators from ERRÉ hearings

Canadian Electoral System expert Dennis Pilon testified before the ERRE Committee.
Canadian Electoral System expert Dennis Pilon testified before the ERRE Committee.

88% of expert witnesses who expressed a preference called for proportional representation

4% supported the Alternative Vote
(majoritarian ranked ballot systems tend to evolve towards a two-party system, often favour centrist parties and could further entrench the distortions brought about by our existing majoritarian system. )

67% thought a referendum was undesirable or unnecessary.

Detailed analysis can be found here in our Synthesis of witness statements and views.

Open Mic-sessions

From coast to coast, Canadians lined up at the ERRÉ open-mic sessions asking that the committee keep the promise and deliver PR.

According to data released this week by the NDP, out of 428 participants who spoke up, 374 (87.38%) called for proportional representation.

MP town halls

PR in the Back YardTotal number of town halls reporting: 174

The following indicates the level of support observed for proportional representation in MP town halls.

69.5% (121 town halls) – Majority of speakers calling for proportional representation.

8.6%% (15 town halls) – Majority for electoral reform, but no clear majority specifically for proportional representation

Brantford-Brant Community Dialogue

5.2%  (9 town halls) – Support divided between majoritarian system and proportional representation

5.7%   (10 town halls) – Majority for the status quo

8.0% (14 town halls) – Report does not allow any majority view to be identified

2.9%   (5 town halls) – Majority support for the Alternative Vote

Detailed analysis can be found here in our
Synthesis of witness statements and views.

New Hamburg Branch info sessions

Citizen Community Dialogues & EventsWaterloo Region Greens Community Dialogue

Here are basic indicators from the 27 dialogues or town halls hosted by citizens and community groups posted on the ERRÉ site or for which we have directly obtained the information so far:

Total number of participants: 1,058

88% (22 events) – A majority of speakers calling for proportional representation

8% (2 events ) – A majority for change but no majority for any one option

12% (3 events) – Report does not allow any majority view to be identified.

We are aware of at least 15-20 other community dialogues that are not yet posted on the ERRÉ site.

Detailed analysis can be found here.

Minister Monsef’s Townhalls

Minister Monsef organized two types of town hall consultations: ones in her own riding, and others as part of a cross-country tour. Here is an extract from the report submitted to the ERRÉ on town halls held by Minister Monsef in her Riding of Peterborough:

“It is clear that there is an appetite for thoughtful change to the electoral system. While opinions on the various electoral systems did vary, most participants indicated their support for a more proportional electoral process that still respected the need for local representation and simplicity of the ballot.”

Although Minister Monsef routinely conducted straw polls on issues such as mandatory voting and online voting in town halls on the road, she did not do the same regarding support for proportional representation. FVC volunteers attended these events across the country and shared their opinions. Here are a few quotes from participants:

Toronto:
 “PR was clearly the main issue for most. With respect to PR, many attendees spoke passionately and eloquently in favour, and if anyone present opposed it, he or she was not bold enough to express that view.”

Vancouver: “It seemed that 90% of the audience… did want some form of PR.”

Edmonton: “ It seemed most people were in support of some sort of proportional representation.”

Yellowknife: “She asked whether the participants liked FPTP to remain, or Ranked system or STV or MMP or Proportional Representation implemented. One voted for FPTP. Many voted for MMP and a few voted for PR.”

Yukon: “Some Yukoners came in support of our current electoral system (First Past the Post); more were on the side of moving towards proportional representation.”

Halifax: “The feedback from the groups certainly favoured PR.”

Montreal: “There was an overwhelming support for PR in the room.”

Thunder Bay: “Of the dozens who rose to spoke, everyone spoke in favour of PR.”

Gatineau: “ Participants spoke to PR at every opportunity they had… However, the format made this difficult… Taking into consideration those interventions that spoke to the issue of PR vs FPTP or AV, the overwhelming majority of interventions – in the order of 70% or more – were in favour of PR.”

Waterloo: From the report of 4 MPs: “Every group discussed the need for our new electoral system to feature some degree of proportionality.”

Charlottetown: “ About 90% of the people there were pro-PR.”

Winnipeg: After noting that three people were for FPTP because they feared losing local representation. The rest of the comments I heard were mostly just preferences for the different PR systems.”

Happy Valley-Goose Bay: “What we said was that we wanted PR  BUT, it had to be a hybrid type that considered the lack of population and massive land mass of not only Labrador but 60 % of Canada, i.e. the North.”

Calgary: “There was overwhelming support for getting rid of the current system, with different groups mentioning STV or MMP as their top choice.”

The Hon. Maryam Monsef addresses the crowd in Waterloo Region.A concluding note

And, to conclude, this eloquent quote from a Fair Vote Canada volunteer at the Victoria town hall where the Minister said she “can’t promise you that I’ll be advocating for PR because I haven’t heard that from an overwhelming majority across the country.“

Victoria:

“The wheels were skidding out of control as we tried to combat the spin we received at last night’s town hall on Electoral Reform. Maryam Monsef, the Minister of Democratic Institutions hosted the gathering in Victoria billed as “the last chance” to give your input. But the tone of the meeting was quite acrimonious. They were clearly managing the message while backpedaling from an election commitment about changing the electoral system. Not only did she defend Trudeau’s recent comments about no longer needing this reform because we voted for HIM.”

“After months of hearing expert witness by the proportionally cross-partisan panel, and while MPs held public consultations with thousands of Canadians across the country, are we now to believe there is no appetite for Proportional Representation? Monsef said that she has not yet made up her mind but the implication of her words was troubling. Will the government diminish the committee’s well-researched, democratic report in December by championing their predetermined preference? For many of us who attended last night the so-called consultation felt like a sham.”



PS from Laurel:

I’ve chosen to used my own photographs, here, not only because they are free culture photos (licensed to share under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License) but because the number of electoral reform events in and around Waterloo Region has been staggering, and I wanted to share some of them with you, but there were so many local ERRÉ events that I attended (and I didn’t attend them all)  that there isn’t enough room here to use photos from them all!

There was a time not long ago when I knew nothing about electoral reform.  It was only when I was asked to take photos at local Fair Vote Waterloo events that I found myself listening to what the Fair Vote folks had to say, and after a while I even started understanding it.   This was not an easy process, nor was it fast.  It can take a while to really gain an understanding of something completely different from what we’re used to.  

That’s why every electoral reform event must incorporate an education piece.  The thing that I have seen over and over again is that even though Canadians may not know the words for it, or how to fix it, we know something is wrong with our voting system that needs to be fixed.

That is why Mr. Trudeau’s “We will make every vote count” resonated with so many people.  

And what I have learned from every discussion and every ERRÉ event I’ve attended is that when Canadians have a chance to understand the difference between winner-take-all and Proportional Representation, we almost always want some form of PR.    I think that’s because most Canadians value fairness, and the only way to get to a point where the votes of most Canadians actually count will require some form of Proportional Representation.  

Fair Vote Canada suggests Canadians who want to see the implementation of some form of Proportional Representation would do well to let the ERRÉ Committee know about it, and to make it easier for us, they have an automated tool to help us send a letter urging the committee to recommend PR here:

http://fairvotecanada.good.do/thankyou/keepthepromise

back to #The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRE

Proportional Representation Series So Far:

• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616
#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
• International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD
• An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals

and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

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What WE Can Do for ERRE

back to DIY Electoral Reform Info SessionsCanadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag backgroundThis is the nineteenth in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

erre-you-r-hereAlthough you’d hardly know it from our friends in the Main Stream Media, there is an Electoral Reform Consultation going on right now.

I’ve been trying to raise awareness of Proportional Representation because that is the only way we will get the *real* real change Canada so desperately needs.  Like most Canadians, I used to think Government Consultations were just for experts.  It never occurred to me that a consultation was meant to consult with all Canadians until I was found myself involved in the 2009 Canadian Copyright Consultation in 2009. More than eight thousand Canadians submitted written submissions, and my understanding is that was the best response any Canadian consultation has ever had until then.

The ERRE Special Committee on Electoral Reform wants facts from the experts, but they also want to find out what ordinary Canadians want.

Even though most Canadians lack the requisite background in electoral systems, we don’t need to be experts to know the system we’ve been using isn’t working.  I don’t understand how my car’s engine actually works, but I certainly know when it doesn’t.  At this time, Canadians need to make sure the Special Committee on Electoral Reform knows that we do want Proportional Representation.

Stand Up For Proportional Representation.

The government needs to know Canadians are not satisfied with our electoral system and that we want Proportional Representation because we care about our democracy.   Since a petition requires so little effort, although helpful, especially with many signatures) your signature on a petition is not given as much weight as a form letter.  The most weight is given to personal contact.  Talking to your MP on the phone ore in person has a lot of weight: it demonstrates how important the issue is to you.

Even if you don’t say a word, even if you are just there to learn, attending any Electoral Reform discussion night or town hall near you is very important, because your presence demonstrates your commitment to electoral reform.

If your MP hasn’t announced a town hall, call them up or send them an email.  All our MPs are all supposed to have a Town Hall. Conservative MPs seem to be avoiding holding Town Halls.  If your MP is Conservative, tell them Conservative voters deserve to be consulted too.

Attend a Community Dialogue, or even set up your own Canadian  Community Dialogue

@WR_Greens hosts a Community Dialogue on Electoral ReformFairvote Waterloo folks are hosting one every Tuesday in a local cafe. They have a list of questions (5 or 6) that a table of participants discus, the facilitator guides them through a list of questions & takes notes; at the end of the night the participants all sign the sheet which is then sent to the ERRE folks.  The Waterloo Region Greens will be doing this on a larger scale with a Waterloo Region Community Dialogue on Electoral Reform on September 17th, 2016.

You can do this yourself on any scale, with a few friends at a picnic table in the park, around your kitchen table, the cafeteria or anywhere.

You can start with the ERRE suggested Potential Canadian federal electoral reform event dialogue topics and questions here.

Get the Canadian federal electoral reform dialogue hosting guide here.

3. Catch up on what the Committee has done in the meetings so far… I’ve included links to the video, as well as the evidence transcripts and the witness briefs that have been posted to find out what experts have been saying in their submissions.

Participate on Twitter

—TWITTER: The Committee monitored the Twitter feed #ERRE #Q for comments and questions from Canadians during the committee meetings, some Twitter questions were posed to the witnesses in real time.

Other hashtags:

#ERRE
#ERRE #Q
#ProportionalRepresentation
#VoterEquality
#ProportionalPlease
#Referendum
#CDNpoli

Even though the Ottawa Committee Meetings are over (I am not sure if there will be another round later) you can continue to follow the committee members on Twitter (links to members twitter handles here) and continue to tweet about #ERRE #Q.  It seemed to me the most active on Twitter were @nathancullen@MPRubySahota@SherryRomanado and @ElizabethMay

Unfortunately, instead of helping inform their constituents, the Conservative members of the committee @ScottReidCPC@BlakeRichardsMP are working hard to delay or derail the Electoral Reform Consultation by concentrating their greatest efforts in demanding an Electoral Reform Referendum.  Proportional Representation isn’t a partisan issue; all it means is that voters will get better representation in Parliament.

The more we can share information through our social media accounts the greater the public awareness.

Make your own presentation to the ERRE Committee in person

—Requests to appear may be sent to the Committee by email (erre@parl.gc.ca) or by using the appropriate button on the Committee’s website. Please note that the Committee clerks will contact only those who are selected by the Committee members to appear. Requests to appear must be submitted to the Committee no later than October 7, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

If you keep an eye out you may get a chance to jointhe Honourable Maryam Monsef and/or #ERRE Committee on their Electoral Reform Road Trip.

Online Questionaire

Anyone can fill out the online questionaire as a submission here:
Special Committee on Electoral Reform E-CONSULTATION ON ELECTORAL REFORM 

Make your own Written Submission

—WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS: Any person or organization can submit a brief to the Committee. To be accepted, the brief must be no more than 3,000 words in length (including the summary and footnotes) and be submitted to the Committee no later than October 7, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. (EDT). The Committee recommends highlighting any recommendations to support the principles set out in the motion mentioned above. Briefs may be sent to the Committee by email (erre@parl.gc.ca) or by using the appropriate button on the Committee’s website. Once they are translated, briefs will be distributed to the Committee members and posted on the Committee’s website.

It is probably best to begin with the principles defined by the Government:

 

Guiding principles for Canadian federal electoral reform

The following five guiding principles may help you think about what you want from federal elections, your Member of Parliament (MP) and your federal government. They can help you decide what is important to you when it comes to potential changes to our democracy at the federal level by considering how any proposed reforms might:

  • Restore the effectiveness and legitimacy of voting, such as by reducing distortions and strengthening the link between voter intention and the electoral result
  • Encourage greater engagement and participation in the democratic process, including by underrepresented groups
  • Support accessibility and inclusiveness of all eligible voters, and avoiding undue complexity in the voting process
  • Safeguard the integrity of our voting process
  • Preserve the accountability of local representation

Why are these principles important?

The principles were identified as a means to encourage a thoughtful, substantive dialogue about what Canadians expect from their electoral system. Potential changes to Canada’s federal electoral system can be assessed through questions such as:

  • How could any proposed reforms strengthen effectiveness and legitimacy by better reflecting the democratic will of Canadians?
  • How could any proposed reforms foster civility, cohesion and openness in politics that will help encourage Canadians to take part?
  • How could any proposed reforms enhance the sense among Canadians that they can contribute to, participate in and influence politics?
  • How could any proposed reforms support accessibility and inclusiveness for all Canadians in our diverse society?
  • How could any proposed reforms ensure that Canadians can trust election results?
  • How could any proposed reforms affect MPs’ accountability to citizens?

Then it might be an idea to take a look at some of the written submissions other Canadians have posted here.  (Unfortunately the submissions from the experts and ordinary Canadians are jumbled together.  Some people who submit are experts but this is a way for all Canadians to be heard. Although I have absorbed far more than I ever wanted to know about this, I am not an expert.  And I will be writing my own sumbission, which I will post here in Whoa!Canada so you will be able to read it (and maybe borrow some of my ideas for your own submission).    The idea is to let the Government (through the ERRE Committee) know what you want them to do.

Your written submission does NOT have to be a scholarly essay (although it can be if you want it to be).  The maximum size is 3,000 words.

This isn’t a test, there are no wrong answers, the government is only asking for our opinions if we have them, and if we do, this is a chance for us to be heard.  This process is really for us.

Your submission is entirely up to you; it can be as detailed or not as you like.  If you have only one thing to say, it might just as easily be a single sentence.  Maybe something like:

I want Canada to adopt some form of Proportional Representation.

or

Proportional representation please!

or

No referendum! Proportional Representation.

or

Canada should adopt   (fill in favourite electoral system here)   [Summaries of the different systems can be found here]

TALK

Talk to your FAMILY and FRIENDS about this. At home, on social media, at work, at school, wherever you go.  You don’t need to be an expert, share links.

Canadians who wish to follow the Committee’s work may do so by visiting its website (http://www.parl.gc.ca/Committees/en/ERRE).

If the ERRE Committee is appearing anywhere near you, go, and bring as many friends & family as possible.

VIDEOS

Movies work better for many people, including me. This is my YouTube Electoral Reform playlist.  Share the list and/or specific videos.  I hope to make a few more soon.

More Information

This article is part of my Proportional Representation for Canada series to help demystify electoral reform.  More info is available on my PR 4 Canada Resources page, and I keep adding material as I find it.  Please share any articles and materials about electoral reform you may find helpful.  If I haven’t answered your questions yet, ask in a comment or send me an email.


I hope you will participate in one way or another.

Just being part of the process — even if it is just quietly listening at an Electoral Reform Town Hall — is a help because your participation will give them an idea whether we care about electoral reform.

Oh, and I almost forgot… the Ontario portion of the ERRE road show will be coming to Toronto on September 21st, 2016.

ERRE Special Committee on Electoral Reform comes to Toronto - Wednesday September 21st, 2016 Chelsea Hotel Churchill Ballroom 33 Gerrard St W, Toronto, ON → map ← 1:30—4:15 pm Witness Panel(s) √ 13 h 30—16 h 15 Panel(s) de témoins 4:15—5:00 pm Open mic √ 16 h 15—17 h 00* séance micro ouvert 6:30—9:30 pm Open mic √ 18 h 30—21 h 30* séance micro ouvert *Please note that the end time for the open mic sessions are approximate

back to DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions

Proportional Representation Series So Far:

• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616
#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
• International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD
• An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals

and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!