Yesterday, the Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) released their report on electoral reform, called Strengthening Democracy in Canada. This represents the culmination of an all-party committee’s work that began its work last June. (It is being called a “majority” report because some of its recommendations were not supported by all members of the committee.)
This report is of interest to Samara not only because we appeared before the committee as an expert witness, but because it considers if and how Canada’s electoral system should change. Our elections shape how Canadians participate in political life and have their interests translated into governance. We hope this report will continue to encourage Canadians to talk about how we should make decisions together.
Given the length of the report (over 300 pages!), we thought it worthwhile to highlight some key things in the report.
There were 13 recommendations about everything from mandatory voting and online voting (they recommended no to both), to getting more women into parliament (they recommended financial incentives for political parties), to ideas for increasing voter turnout and accessibility. You can find all the recommendations outlined in the report, starting on page 165.
We are also pleased the report highlighted something Samara flagged in committee: the need for greater investment in nonpartisan civic education. Our Executive Director, Jane Hilderman, was cited on page 130.
What about the biggest decision to be made? The report recommends a national referendum with the options being to keep the current first-past-the-post system or adopt a form of proportional representation.*
There are still lots of questions about how and when this will happen. We’ll try to keep you updated through our blog, Twitter, and Facebook. In the meantime, if you would like more details about how different electoral systems would work in Canada, there’s Samara’s electoral reform report — in both English and French — which includes our current system as well as three proportional systems, all of which are still on the table.
What’s next? The report’s recommendations will be considered by the Minister of Democratic Institutions as the government continues its public consultations through December.
And for us? We keep the conversation going! Be sure to read our report, share your thoughts on social media and especially in person with friends and family.
Enjoy the read and here’s to more conversations about democracy!
*That said, the Liberal committee members disagree with this recommendation in their supplementary report (which begins on page 321). The NDP/Green members also added a supplementary report (beginning page 329) that expresses a preference for no referendum.