Evidence of meeting #46 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 referendum.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

9:10 p.m.

John Schioler As an Individual

I didn't come to speak this evening. It was only when I thought there was something missing as the discussion took place that I put my name down.

Those in favour of change seem to have gone into a lot of detail about how that was going to work, but those in favour of the referendum didn't tell us how a referendum would work. Would it be 50% plus one across the country? Would we do it by province, etc.?

It seems to me that it's incumbent upon them to show that there is something workable and something that would create confidence in the Canadian public that the right system was being addressed, and I wonder whether in your deliberations across the country you have had any representatives of the point of view of the referendum come to you with details about when, how many, and percentages.

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Francis Scarpaleggia

The subject has come up quite a bit in the hearings, both on the road and here in Ottawa. Some have said we should follow the New Zealand example of two referenda prior to a change and then one after the change to give approval or not to that change. Some have said, for example, that the 60% threshold in the B.C. referendum was arbitrary and too high, so some extent, yes, people have touched on the details, but it has revolved mostly around the principle of a referendum.

October 26th, 2016 / 9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

One last thing is that we were in Prince Edward Island, where they're holding what they call a plebiscite later this month, but it's actually a referendum on electoral reform.

We had a number of people who are administering that referendum, and they had a previous one on the same issue several years ago in a different format. They presented, both of these administrators, on how those worked.

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you.

Finally, last but not least, we'll hear from Mr. Houblen, please.

9:10 p.m.

Adam Houblen As an Individual

Thank you. My name is Adam Houblen. I'm finishing up my Ph.D. at the University of Ottawa here in town. I'm studying biology. I look at algae in lakes, so that really doesn't make me an electoral reform specialist in any way, but I am very much in favour of proportional representation, and I think what we have right now, the first past the post, is clearly archaic. It's an archaic form, and I think we can modernize. There are lots of examples, and I'll leave it largely up to the experts to decide which one might be the best form.

As for the question of a referendum, well, I'm here. This is my referendum right now. I'm speaking out at these public open houses. I also did vote in the last election, and I believe all but one party had electoral reform as a key platform issue, so I think it's there. I think we can move on.

I respect all of the opinions, but the best argument I've heard tonight for first past the post is that we've had stable government and it has been working so far. Well, that's not really inspirational, and I think that we have a civil government despite the electoral system. I think we can move on and experiment. I'm a scientist. Let's experiment. Let's have some perspective. We can change it again. It's not the end. It's not the last form. There might be something better.

Canada has been in a unique position as well. We have this large geography with pockets of dense population. We'd probably have to come up with something that might be unique or novel, so I hope that we can.

I trust you. If you have questions about algae, I hope you trust my expertise, and I'm going to basically trust this panel that has been working on this, doing a great job. I love that it's proportional and across all the parties, but I'm going to trust your final decision. I'll let you whittle out the final details. I hope you can take the opinion of the electorate, though, that they do want change. I think it's quite apparent here.

Thank you.

9:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you very much, Mr. Houblen.

I'd like to thank everyone here tonight and those who came to the mics to share your considered views. Thank you also for respecting the time limits, which allowed for a full and orderly discussion.

To the committee members, we meet again tomorrow morning at 7:45 a.m.

We will reconvene tomorrow at 7:45 a.m.

Thank you to the participants for their comments and participation.

We hope that you will carefully read our report, which must be tabled by December 1.

The meeting is adjourned.