I've always respected the depth that you brought to the role when you were chief electoral officer and also the way you contributed to the national debate on various aspects of democracy since that time.
I wanted to start by asking you about a quote you made in an interview on June 5. It was regarding the Referendum Act. I'll start by quoting the Referendum Act and then I'll come back to your quote.
The Referendum Act says in subsection 3(1), “Where the Governor in Council considers that it is in the public interest to obtain by means of a referendum the opinion of electors on any question relating to the Constitution of Canada, the Governor in Council may, by proclamation, direct that the opinion of electors be obtained by putting the question to the electors of Canada” in a referendum. That's the end of that quote.
On June 5, on CTV's program The West Block, you made comments that I think have been misinterpreted in some of the media. What you said, and I'm quoting again here, is “legislation would have to be significantly changed” in order for there to be a referendum on electoral reform, “And the number one consideration: you can only hold a federal referendum in Canada on a constitutional matter. And changing the electoral system is not a constitutional matter.”
Then, finally, just as a representative example, I see coverage like this—I'm quoting again from a story—which said that many people were left “to wonder if the opposition Conservatives failed to actually read the rule book before calling loudly for a national vote on electoral reform.”
This was based upon their reading of your comments, but I think that writer and some others misinterpreted what you were saying. You can correct me here, but I think what you were saying was simply that in order to have a referendum on a non-constitutional matter like electoral reform, you would have to amend the Referendum Act and allow other non-constitutional questions to be placed. Am I right in my interpretation?