“As a result of this week’s vote, Canadians have lost the opportunity to get a fairer electoral system. We are stuck with a system that gives a majority of the seats to a party that gets fewer than 40 per cent of the votes” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (02 June 2017) — On May 31, 2 Liberal Members of Parliament (MPs) voted to keep the promise their party made in 2015 to make the electoral system fairer. 159 voted against the report of the special committee on electoral reform.
What the committee recommended was adopting a system where the number of seats a party wins reflects their share of the vote, while still having representatives from each part of the country. Along with the 2 Liberal MPs who honoured their 2015 commitment, the report was supported by every other party.
“As a result of this week’s vote, Canadians have lost the opportunity to get a fairer electoral system. We are stuck with a system that gives a majority of the seats to a party that gets fewer than 40 percent of the votes,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
In the 2015 election the Liberals promised electoral reform
During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to bring in electoral reform immediately. Their program said, “We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.” It also said that the recommendations about which reforms to adopt should be made by “a special all-party parliamentary committee, which will bring recommendations to Parliament on the way forward, to allow for action before the succeeding federal election.”
Special Committee recommendation was what the Liberals promised in 2015
Parliament followed the process set out in the 2015 Liberal Party platform. The special committee recommended one of the options — proportional representation — that the Liberals had put forward during the election.
What the special committee recommended also matched what Canadians have been saying. Both the public and expert witnesses expressed a clear preference for proportional representation.
Liberal MPs who voted for special committee report recognized the importance of the party’s election commitment
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Sean Casey were the 2 Liberal MPs who voted for the special committee report. When interviewed after the vote, Sean Casey described the 2015 promise as “unequivocal.” In an opinion piece after the Liberals first announced they were backing away from their 2015 promise, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith apologized to Canadians.
“I would like to commend the 2 Liberal MPs who voted to support the report. They recognized that Canadians expect Members of Parliament to put the good of the country ahead of self-serving partisanship,” said Brown. “I would also like to commend the MPs from all the other parties who were willing to put aside partisan differences and focus on what would make elections fairer.”
Canadians stuck with unfair electoral system that creates artificial majorities
The vote leaves Canadians stuck with a system that gives a party that gets less than 40 per cent of the vote, 100 per cent of the power — for now. How people react to this broken promise will determine how quickly a fair voting system is back on the table.
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