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

8:25 p.m.

As an Individual

Norman L. Petry

My concern is that if we adopt a system like this and the parties do game the system—which they will do—as soon as one party does it, all the other parties will have to follow. Then we will not have a system of proportional representation in practice, and as a result people will be very cynical about any future change.

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

That's for sure. I agree that we don't want people to lose faith in the system because it's not properly designed.

Thank you.

8:25 p.m.

As an Individual

Norman L. Petry

I just want to say finally that I urge the committee to look seriously at adopting the single transferable vote system, which provides a generalized system of proportional representation that is far more powerful and effective than MMP.

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thanks very much.

Would Dauna Ditson like to take mike one, please?

Go ahead, Ms. Morgan.

8:25 p.m.

Rachel Morgan As an Individual

Good evening. Thank you for having me.

I would like to ask a question. If we adopted a preferential vote system, how would we make sure that our country did not always elect a centrist party like the Liberal Party?

That is to say, going forward, a party that benefits from being a second choice for everyone could win every time. What sort of systems and fail-safe measures will we have in place to protect the country from that happening all of the time?

That's everything. Thank you.

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

We're still at the exploratory phase. That's a good question to keep in mind. We're just gathering information right now.

Thank you for your question about preferential voting. We also appreciated the fact that you asked it in French. Thank you very much.

If Frances Simonson could take mike number two, we'll go to Ms. Ditson, please.

8:30 p.m.

Dauna Ditson As an Individual

Thank you for the opportunity to speak, and thank you for the important work that you all are doing.

I wanted to speak because I regularly vote for my third-choice party, and I don't think that's fair.

That's all.

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Point made. Thank you.

If Mr. Rodney Williams could take mike one, we'll go to Ms. Simonson, please.

September 19th, 2016 / 8:30 p.m.

Frances Simonson As an Individual

A few analogies came to mind tonight. I wanted to say how awesome I feel to be here. I was really impressed with what I heard from the presenters and from the thoughtfulness from you guys. Some people might be a little bit hesitant believing that this is real.

Picture yourself in Athens at the birth of democracy. Someone says, “Let's have everybody vote, and everybody's opinion will matter.” The answer is “No, it's going to take way too long to count all the hands, and then we're going to have to pay somebody to actually count them. They'll have to be an employee. Yeah, let's forget about that.”

A second analogy comes to mind whenever I think about proportional representation. I think about how people fear this dialogue and this co-operation that's going to go on in the House of Commons. Then I think how if either I or my husband was the one who made all the decisions in my house, it would end either in divorce or in extreme depression of one of the parties.

This is something we cannot fear. This is natural. Dialogue is natural. Speaking to everybody who has an existence in Canada is natural and it's right. When we talk about proportional representation compared to different things, I think STV sounds like a very tiny band-aid, and proportional representation sounds like what we're really looking for, what Canadians really want, because it's the right thing to do.

One of the reasons that it's the right thing to do is because of minorities. I don't know if that's been brought up to you yet or not. In New Zealand, for example, the Maori people have a place in the House of Representatives, a voice, a platform to speak from. They might not be able to pass a vote all on their own, but how many of you have had experiences with an aboriginal person coming to you and telling you something about their culture that you had no idea about before that? You couldn't believe you had never thought of it, and it was actually compatible with a bunch of things that your party thinks.

That was my experience in 2015 when we had the national election. I discovered that it was actually on principle that some aboriginal people don't vote. The idea is that we don't want them voting in our elections, so we're not going to vote in theirs. We're not citizens of Canada; they made a treaty with us.

Then we think, “What? I thought you thought you were a citizen of Canada.”

This is just mind-boggling. We can't just continue to have them sitting at round tables all the time. Our government goes and meets them at the round table, but they should actually be in our government.

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

So the point you're making is that PR or mixed member proportional is more inclusive of all segments.

8:30 p.m.

As an Individual

Frances Simonson

You could imagine that there would be a party that would champion their ideas, and they could vote for that party with the knowledge that a few of them would get in and at least speak for them.

I spent a lot of my young life feeling completely alienated. All I wanted was for some environmental things to be talked about on TV. I thought this wasn't a country for me. I turned off the TV until finally there was a little bit of action.

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you very much.

If Mr. William Clary could take mike number two, we'll now listen to Mr. Rodney Williams.

8:30 p.m.

Rodney Williams As an Individual

I'd like to thank the committee for coming to Regina and hearing our voices.

My name is Rod Williams. I am from Regina. I work at EVRAZ steel and pipe, and pipelines are safe. I also have a lot of friends who wanted to be here, but they are on shift. I also have friends and family who are right now on their combines harvesting, bringing in the canola, the wheat, the durum, the barley, and the hay.

As I said, I appreciate coming here, and please let it be known that a lot of them would be here, but this is also their time to make their money.

I'm a proud Canadian, as are all of you. I am a Conservative member and I'm a supporter. I value all of your opinions and your views. I have learned a lot coming here tonight, and I have learned a lot at Erin Weir's town hall meeting back on September 6, I believe.

My view on electoral reform is that you have to let the people decide this. That's what you take back to the House of Commons. According to a recent poll in The Globe and Mail, 73% of Canadians prefer a referendum. I heard the term “deliver empowerment” here tonight. Okay, let the people study this, and then have a referendum to decide it.

I value what the leader of the Green Party, Ms. May, said here tonight about stampeding support for parties for whatever the reason. I do appreciate where you're coming from on that.

In closing, no matter where you stand on this issue, you all should put your trust in Canadians and your supporters and let the people decide. Whether it's in the coffee shop or at a sporting event or wherever, one constant I hear all the time—and it doesn't matter what political hat you may wear—is “It doesn't matter what we think anyhow.” Well, let's reverse this. It does matter. It is imperative that Canadians have a say. Do you know why it's imperative? If you want this to be successful, it's best that you let the people decide now, not later. If you want change, let's validate the change.

Thank you.

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you very much.

Finally, We have Mr. Clary.

8:35 p.m.

William Clary As an Individual

Unlike those folks who support first past the post, I believe in the people of Canada and their ability to make intelligent decisions when they're well informed.

That said, what's also important is that we have to deal with two very strong emotions when we come to these questions of elections, fear and love. I believe that first past the post represents a system that enhances the use of fear, and I don't think we have to look very far in terms of our own elections or the American elections to see how much fear is utilized in order to force people to vote in a particular direction.

In terms of the previous folks, I only caught a portion of what they said, but I like the idea that Russ Husum mentioned: you get to choose your conscience, you get to choose what you love as your first choice. Then you can rank your ballot, if you want to avoid someone who is particularly scary, to reflect your support, but at least you get a chance to vote your conscience.

Like Lee, I was in Lewvan, and I felt obliged to vote for the NDP when I wanted to vote for Green, so I wasn't able to say that I supported the ideas of the Greens. I felt that the Greens had a message that reflected the concerns that we should have in this nation, but in the current conditions I felt obliged not to allow a Conservative member to get into power, so I didn't vote my conscience, and that hurt me.

I think we have an opportunity here to make a substantial change whereby people can be encouraged to vote their conscience and what they love, as opposed to being scared into voting for a particular party.

I thank you for the work you're doing.

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you.

That concludes our open-mike segment and our day of hearings. It's been wonderful to be in Regina and Saskatchewan. We took away a lot from both the open-mike session and the witnesses who appeared today.

Tomorrow we're off to Winnipeg. For the members, we'll be leaving the lobby by taxi at 7:10 tomorrow morning.

Thank you to all of you who came tonight and showed real interest and made thoughtful commentary on this issue.

Thank you, members. We'll see you in a few hours.

The meeting is adjourned.