You can’t have your say about our democracy

“Canadians understand the need for a fairer election system. What they can’t understand is why the federal government is trying to use its survey to manipulate public opinion.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (09 Dec. 2016) — A survey on electoral reform should give people the facts about different ways of electing Members of Parliament and let them choose which one would be best for Canada. That’s what a genuine opportunity to “have your say about our democracy” looks like.

But the federal government’s survey on electoral reform looks nothing like that. Instead of letting Canadian decide what electoral system they want, the survey is designed to produce answers that will help the Liberal Party. Questions only give people one side of the debate or presented them with false choices.

“Canadians understand the need for a fairer election system”, said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “What they can’t understand is why the federal government is trying to use its survey to manipulate public opinion.”

Liberals trying to break promise on electoral reform

In the last federal election, the Liberal Party promised electoral reform.

Their platform stated, “We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.” They said different options would be studied as part of a “national engagement process.”

Now the federal Liberals are trying to break that promise. By directing people to a survey packed with misleading or irrelevant questions, they are hoping to get results they can use to justify breaking their promise.

Real consultations found over 60% of Canadians want proportional representation

The consultations held by a House of Commons committee with representatives from all parties received a clear message. Over 60 per cent of those who responded wanted an electoral system where the number of seats a party wins reflects the percentage of the vote it received. People are tired of an electoral system that gives artificial majorities to parties that fewer than 40 per cent of voters supported.

“When a party can get a majority of the seats with less than 40 per cent of the vote, it means the wishes of the majority will be ignored. Regardless of who ends up in government, our current system is unfair” said Brown. “Proportional representation forces parties to work together to build governments that reflect the views of the majority of Canadians.”

Making the electoral system fairer

The NUPGE paper, Electoral Reform in Canada: The Shape of Things to Come, looks at the alternatives to our current electoral system. Information is also available from the Canadian Labour Congress at www.choosepr.ca.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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