Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for moving this motion and sharing his time with me.
I would like to begin with a confession. When I first got involved in politics, I did not really think that democratic reform was of much interest to regular people. That is true some of the time. As MPs, we knock on doors and listen to people talk about the economy, health, education, and other issues. Sometimes they even talk about issues that, while not within federal jurisdiction, concern them nonetheless.
In 2013, I was pleasantly surprised when the Conservatives introduced Bill C-23, which made significant changes to our electoral system. Unfortunately, the changes sometimes caused serious problems for our system. Local people outside the Ottawa bubble took an interest. Constituents came to see my colleagues and me in our riding offices about this because they were concerned. People also sent us letters and petitions.
It became clear to me that it was not always the top priority. Still, when a government proposes major changes in the area of democratic reform, people realize that these are significant changes to how they vote for their MPs.
The same thing is happening now. Since the Liberals came to power following the 2015 election, they have been proposing to change the status quo. The electoral system is fundamental to our democracy, and people are concerned about the changes that are being proposed to the system. They want to know how this is going to happen. Unfortunately, what the government has proposed so far is not what Canadians were hoping to see. If the proposed changes were to be accepted, this would allow the party in power to unilaterally decide how to go about changing something that is so important to our democracy.
What we are proposing today is very interesting. The minister repeated several times that what is important is hearing the opposition's proposals. She also said that she is open to those proposals. That is good, because here we are with a proposal that I hope will be supported by the minister and her party. The proposal aims to change how the committee is formed in order to require that any changes made to our democracy have the support of at least one opposition party.
At this time, the Liberals have a majority on the committee. They can go ahead with a unilateral change and come back to the House with a proposal that would very likely pass with the Liberal majority here.
Obviously, the Liberals still have the majority of the seats in the House of Commons, but they should also get the support of an opposition party. As proposed in the motion by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, the committee's composition would reflect the percentage of votes, based on how Canadians voted in the last election. That way, our Bloc Québécois colleagues and our Green Party colleague would have a vote.
As a result, we believe that the way the committee is composed would help in achieving consensus and making changes to our electoral system that are acceptable to Canadians. They would know that a parliamentary consensus was reached on the changes. The composition of the committee would be more proportional and more representative of how Canadians voted in the election.
The committee's work will be very important. It is an opportunity for us to break out of the Ottawa bubble.
The minister is proposing that every member hold consultations in his or her riding. I am not saying that consultations are not important. In fact, consultations on various issues are at the heart of an MP's work. Holding consultations, going door to door, and collecting signatures for petitions are central to an MP's work. However, this could never replace the work of Parliament or a committee.
The Standing Orders generally establish the makeup of the other existing House of Commons committees. The government's reasoning was that it was using the normal proportions. However, the normal proportions are based on what they themselves called a false majority. If the government truly wants to reach a consensus and hear from the opposition parties, it should not use that false majority to determine the committee's makeup. That is very important.
Unlike individual members, a committee has the ability to call witnesses and benefit from the expertise of all parliamentarians. Earlier, my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands spoke about the findings of an expert study. That is the essence of what a committee does.
My constituents and I have our own knowledge, opinions, and expertise. However, that can never replace a consensus. We must consult Canadians, experts, and parliamentarians from the other parties to reach a consensus that reflects what Canadians want and need in a 21st-century electoral system.
This is an interesting conversation to have, since the first past the post system is several centuries old. It is not bad just because it is old, but we must always keep an eye on how our electoral systems are designed.
For example, many people are following the primaries in the United States. It is very interesting, since this process dates back to a time when people like farmers, for example, sent delegates because they did not necessarily have the time, resources, or ability to travel to a political party's convention.
Delegates were therefore sent to choose Republican and Democratic candidates for the presidential election. However, because technology has advanced and travel has become easier, cutting travel time between states, some Americans think it is time to reconsider this system.
That is exactly what we are doing here in Canada. Our system dates back to when there were just two parties. Now there are several more. Three parties are recognized in Parliament, and five parties are represented here, so we can and should be asking ourselves this question.
I know what the government members mean when they say that 65% of Canadians voted for parties that want to revisit the status quo, even though they do not always say it in good faith. Let us have that conversation.
In closing, I know that some of my Conservative colleagues will say there is nothing wrong with the status quo. All the more reason for them to participate in the conversation and support our proposal to give them a greater voice in the committee, a voice that reflects the number of people who voted for them. That is exactly why this proposal is so important. It is designed to ensure that all MPs in the House have a voice and that we engage in this very important conversation.
We must not fear change, but if we proceed, we must do so properly. We must not exclude those whose voices may not be as loud but are nevertheless just as valid. That was the challenge with Bill C-23. The Conservatives' changes had a negative impact on people who tend not to vote or who find it harder to do so.
When making such a major change, we have to listen to people and ensure that we find the right solution. We have to do it properly. If we do it thoughtlessly, we will realize later on that we made mistakes. This is about our democracy.
I am proud to support my colleague's motion, and I invite all members to join me. Their voices are at stake.