Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
First of all, to our Brigadier-General and Colonel, thanks very much for being here. I have the pleasure of serving the riding where Base Gagetown is located, so I'm certainly aware of the issues of exercising franchise for women and men who serve in uniform. I appreciate your concerns that were brought here today. This committee and other committees of the House will have the opportunity to discuss in depth how we can better assure that military members are able to vote.
To Mr. Fitch, thanks very much, and let me congratulate you on the two years you served as interim leader for the Progressive Conservatives in the province. I wish you and your new leader, Blaine Higgs, all the best of luck as the House returns into session next week. However, I would be a bit loath to compare this process here to the one in New Brunswick. Here we had a government that committed to engaging with Canadians and to working with all the parties. You see all the parties assembled around here coming to some form of agreement on what we can offer to Parliament. In the situation in New Brunswick, unfortunately, both opposition parties ran away from a process proposed by the government. All the same, I know there will be robust debate going on at home, and I certainly look forward to seeing how that turns out.
Mr. Dias, perhaps I can return to some of your testimony, particularly around the polls that were commissioned recently and how we read those. I've heard testimony from certain people in front of this committee to the effect that clearly there's a consensus and absolutely people want this. The testimony indicates that there's an interest in electoral reform, and we would be naive and ignorant to suggest otherwise. At the same time, I go to the Ekos poll, and I read the statement that respondents were asked to respond on a sliding scale of one to seven. The first statement was: “Electoral reform is something the Liberal Party campaigned on, so they should deliver on this promise.” On that, 59% agreed, with either five, six, or seven out of seven. Now, that hardly surprises me, hardly at all, that people think the government should fulfill its promises.
The second statement was: “Electoral reform is too important to be rushed; the process should be slowed down and subjected to more public consultations.” There were 57% of respondents, either five, six, or seven out of seven, who agreed.
The third question was: “Electoral reform is crucially important and should not be delayed for another election cycle.” There were 47%, five, six, or seven out of seven, who agreed.
It tells us that there is a variety of opinions on how this issue should be addressed. Then, when we go to the preferred form of electoral reform, we have 43% of respondents suggesting that proportional representation is the best option for Canada; 29% for first past the post; and 26% for preferential ballot, which leads me to think, again, that there's a diffuse and diverse view of exactly how this issue should be addressed.
Is it not more fair to say that we need to address this with some level of modesty, work together across partisan lines, understanding that there's no clear consensus on how we should move forward on this issue, and do our best, in a smart, possibly incremental way, to find a solution and bring Canadians on board?