Mr. Speaker, although I do not have 10 minutes to speak, I am pleased to be able to speak to this motion on the special committee and, more generally, on electoral reform.
I want to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for the work he has done. I also want to commend the work done by the member for Edmonton Centre, among others. In the previous Parliament, my former colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent, Alexandrine Latendresse, also worked very hard on the issue of electoral reform.
I would like to point out that most NDP members who were here before 2015 did a great deal of consultation in their ridings and used every means available to them to talk about electoral reform in a general sense in order to get a clearer picture of the most common concerns.
One of the most frequently raised points on the topic of electoral reform and our current system was that it does not make sense for a majority to have 100% control over Parliament when the majority of Canadians did not vote for them. Many people told me that minority governments are also perhaps not so effective, because that situation often leads to quick elections and not much work gets done during those Parliaments.
Nevertheless, many people have told me that they much preferred minority governments because members were forced to talk to each other to achieve their goals. Others told me that the problems started up again as soon as majority governments returned and they were allowed to take all control.
It obviously does not make sense to talk about electoral reform in a committee controlled by the majority government. If that had been the process, it would have made a mockery of our democracy, and I supported the proposal by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley to ensure that the committee reflects the percentage of votes we received.
As a result of his work, we will have a committee in which at least two parties will have to agree on the recommendations for them to be included in the report. At the very least, two parties will have to work together. For some recommendations, it may be two different parties than for other recommendations. At least the composition of the committee will leave us no choice but to work together. I am so happy about that.
Now, I will talk a bit about the points that are most often raised when I speak to people in my riding. One of the concerns that is raised most often has to do with the principle of local representation. People are worried that, if a new system is put in place, they will lose their local MP. They think it is extremely important to have a representative in the riding and to be able to contact someone who will help them. They are afraid of being forgotten if they are placed with a member who comes from a big city, for example. That is one of the points that was raised most often in the discussions that I have had with my constituents.
People also wanted to ensure that every vote counts. That is important. People told us that they always felt as though their vote was lost. They feel that is unacceptable. They said they liked voting for small parties and for people who really share their beliefs, but they know that if they do so, their vote is basically worthless. They often feel as though they cannot vote for their preferred candidate, who will do the best job, but instead they have to vote for the least objectionable candidate, according to the context and that person's chance of winning. That is not how people want to vote.
These are really important elements to consider and the committee will be able to examine the different systems based on these factors, as well as factors related to local representation and the ability of small parties to exist.
If we reform the electoral system, we need to remember that one thing that is different about Canada is that independent candidates regularly run in local elections. In my opinion, we need to take into account the fact that some members want to run as independents or that some candidates want to try their luck that way.
All of these different points can be studied by this committee, and no one party will have control. Obviously, the committee will produce its findings, but there is much more. With respect to witnesses, if a party has the absolute majority, it can block a witness who may have views that differ from the party's, for example.
This could affect more than the committee's decision or the recommendations it makes. It could affect the work that members do in this committee and even the reliability of the committee process. If people only listen to the witnesses they want to hear, the testimony will not reflect reality.
In such a comprehensive process, it is important to hear from experts who can provide information and talk about all the possibilities. Once we have this information and the recommendations on the table, we can decide on how to proceed.
However, for now, it is important to arrive at these recommendations based on as much information as possible. We must work as a team and be sure that our process is democratic and representative. Once this process is complete, we can decide what to do with the recommendations. Do we submit them to the public in a referendum? Do we move straight to a bill because there was a broad public consensus? To do so, we have to do the work fairly and equitably. All parliamentarians, who represent all of the political views across the country, must have a chance to be heard, participate actively, and vote.
With this process in place, the first step will be to make some specific recommendations. Once we have the recommendations, we can decide what to do. A number of Conservative colleagues have mentioned a referendum, which is why I wanted to touch on that topic. Before we talk about a referendum, we need to know what we would ultimately want to ask in a referendum. Right now, we want to look at all of the proposals. We cannot hold a referendum to ask the public whether they agree with each of our proposals.
When a referendum is held, the question must be clear. I think the proposal needs to be quite clear so that people understand it and can respond accordingly.
I am very pleased to conclude the debate on the excellent motion moved by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley.