Evidence of meeting #24 for Electoral Reform in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was saskatchewan.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michael Boda  Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Saskatchewan
Charles Smith  Associate Professor, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, As an Individual
Darla Deguire  Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress
Jim Harding  As an Individual
Kenneth Imhoff  As an Individual
Robert Bandurka  As an Individual
Nial Kuyek  As an Individual
John Klein  As an Individual
Ross Keith  As an Individual
Dave A.J. Orban  As an Individual
Lorna Evans  As an Individual
Erich Keser  As an Individual
Patricia Donovan  As an Individual
Calvin Johnson  As an Individual
Patricia Farnese  As an Individual
Jane Anweiler  As an Individual
William Baker  As an Individual
Russ Husum  As an Individual
Lee Ward  Associate Professor of Political Science, Campion College, University of Regina, As an Individual
Carl Cherland  As an Individual
Nancy Carswell  As an Individual
David Sabine  As an Individual
Randall Lebell  As an Individual
Shane Simpson  As an individual
Dastageer Sakhizai  As an individual
D-Jay Krozer  As an Individual
Maria Lewans  As an Individual
Norman L. Petry  As an Individual
Rachel Morgan  As an Individual
Dauna Ditson  As an Individual
Frances Simonson  As an Individual
Rodney Williams  As an Individual
William Clary  As an Individual

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Thank you.

Quickly, does the labour congress have any view or opinion on how, once the committee concludes its process, we validate our recommendation with Canadians by way of referendum or some other citizen-led process, or a vote in Parliament? Is there a point of view on that?

4:05 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

Yes. First of all, this is the start of that process, right? That's why I do mean that I commend this committee for doing the work it's been set out to do. We do believe in this process, and we do put a lot of trust and goodwill into what's being done here. I know this committee is going to come to some pointed conclusions and provide some recommendations going forward. We trust that process, and that's first and foremost.

As it pertains to a something larger, such as a referendum, we don't necessarily have an opinion either way, other than we do believe that you should be consulting with Elections Canada. I think that would be important, because I don't know if a referendum on this particular issue is going to get Canadians out in droves. I don't know if this is the most important, top-of-mind issue for Canadians right now. I don't know if going as far as a referendum would be necessary, but I do encourage.... This process is wonderful. I think local MPs are having some town halls. We continue to encourage that approach of inviting people to come forward to an open-mike portion—

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you very much.

Sorry about that. It's just the way it is.

We'll go to Mr. Reid.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

First of all, I assume that what you presented today is not your own idea but is something being proposed by the Canadian Labour Congress. You're representing the position, and I'm assuming that's the national position. Is that the position of the Saskatchewan chapter or branch or section of the Canadian Labour Congress, or is it the national position?

4:10 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

It's our position nationally, as an organization. We're set up in regions, but we're all one congress.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

When it comes to this policy, it's one national policy.

4:10 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

That's right.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Okay. Is the detailed version of your policy available on your website?

4:10 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

It hasn't been submitted yet, as far as I know, but I know we will have a much more extensive position paper, a brief, that will be provided to the committee.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

So it will be submitted to us or to our clerk?

4:10 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

Yes. I believe there are some other committee hearings coming up in Ottawa, maybe at the end of this process, at which you will be consulting more experts, and you'll also hear from some of our more expert staff on this issue during that time as well.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

All right.

You mentioned that within the MMP model it should be an open list system. That would be as opposed to a closed list system, of course, and I think that is salutary. Then you said that each party ought to nominate people for their their lists by using the same model that a party uses for candidate nominations in ridings. Did I understand that correctly?

4:10 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

Yes. It's a suggestion. That could be one way of doing it. We are not hell-bent on any exact model of PR. It's just a suggestion that this could be one way of doing it. You're correct.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Okay. It's not a bad idea, as far as I can see. There's only one difficulty that occurs to me off the top of my head when we're trying to do this, and I will use my own party as an example.

I was nominated using a preferential ballot, but only one person was going to win the nomination from my party and my riding. Presumably a list in the province would have multiple winners. In Saskatchewan, if you had a compensating list for half the seats, for example, you'd be talking about—I can't remember the number of seats. It's 14, is it? With 14 seats, you'd have seven people on that list. By necessity, it would have to be a slightly different system. I'll just draw your attention to that.

On the whole, I thought that was interesting.

You know what? That was all I had to ask. Thank you very much.

4:10 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Okay. We'll go to Mr. Cullen.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Thank you very much.

Thank you to our witnesses for being here.

In terms of the mandate, the so-called false majorities, the last majority we had in this country, I believe, was under Mr. Mulroney, and then you have to go back to find a government that actually got more than 50% of the support. Is your suggestion, then, that a government coming in with less than 50% of the vote, yet with 50% of the power, has what we'd call a weak mandate? Is it your suggestion that the mandate was technically a majority, but it wasn't expressed as a majority from Canadians?

4:15 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

I'll go back to my comment, which is that in order to get a majority government, you should have the majority of the vote.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Right, and that's when the term “false majorities” comes up. We've only had four true ones after World War I. It's interesting because if that's a false majority for a government, about two-thirds of the MPs in the House of Commons right now didn't get 50% of the vote in their ridings, and some received less than 30% of the support.

I think it was Ms. Sahota, in an earlier panel, who brought up the example of Australia not having a good representation of minority groups in particular, which is true, and it is an interesting condemnation of the alternative vote that Australia uses, which gives these further false majorities and doesn't do much for diversity in representation.

I want to make a distinction between.... The commitment we're operating under, the one the Prime Minister made, the one that set p this committee, is for electoral reform, and to make the last election the last one under first past the post. Is that your understanding as well?

4:15 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Whether we talk about online voting, mandatory voting, or voting age, none of those issues actually changes first past the post. I just held a number of town halls, and people were asking us to distinguish among those things. They're valid topics and interesting conversations, but first past the post is the order of the day. That is what fulfills the commitment: ending that system.

I'm wondering about this from a labour perspective.

You represent 3.5 million Canadians. I have a question and then a request. The request I'll start with is in terms of education. We keep saying it. You have 3.5 million Canadians under the labour congress. You have a broad reach to educate those working people about what's going on. I would hope that would be something.... I know that the Canadian Labour Congress announced something last week.

My question is this: why is this important to working people? Usually it's about equity of pay, equal work for equal pay for men and women, labour standards, or health and safety in the workplace. Those are things that I naturally understand the labour community being interested in. Why this issue?

4:15 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

That's a rhetorical question, Mr. Cullen.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

No, no, it's not. No, it's a concern.

September 19th, 2016 / 4:15 p.m.

Director, Prairie Region, Canadian Labour Congress

Darla Deguire

It's for exactly all of those reasons.

First of all, I don't think it's any secret here that the CLC is a political organization. That is what we do. We do politics and we try hard to engage our membership in the electoral process and to care about issues that are important to working people. With that, it makes sense to us that a really important part of getting people involved and engaged is having them care about something, and we want them to care about issues because they see the importance and the connection and the link between these issues and engaging in the political process.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

I have a quick question about equity, then.

Canada right now ranks, I believe, 64th in the world in terms of women in Parliament. Even with the dramatic swing we saw from the last Parliament to this one, the representation of women in Parliament went up only 1%. It wasn't a dramatic swing at all. It's still hovering at far less than a third.

We've heard testimony that proportional systems will allow better access for women in particular to get elected, and for other groups that are under-represented. Is this a part of CLC's mandate? Is this something that you're concerned with at all? Does it inform your brief to us today?