TORONTO – Many media pundits are underestimating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s personal commitment to real change in Canada’s voting procedures, says Fair Vote Canada.
“We know what it means when Justin Trudeau says he will Make Every Vote Count,” says FVC President Gary Shaul. “Make Every Vote Count has been our slogan for 15 years. Justin Trudeau knows that – he sent a strong signal when he said ‘We will Make Every Vote Count’. He knows we are the national multi-partisan campaign for equal effective votes and that means Proportional Representation.”
The Liberal Party inserted the FVC slogan into its official platform in mid-2015 after listening to his Caucus and Canadians, including Liberal party members active in Fair Vote Canada.
“That Trudeau platform decision,” says Shaul, “neatly synchronized the Liberal Party with the New Democratic Party and the Green Party in a shared quest for equal votes and proportional representation for all Canadian citizens.”
“That was an historic moment,” says Kelly Carmichael, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada. “Together the three parties attracted the support of nearly 63 per cent of Canadian voters. The people elected a very strong majority of MPs from parties pledged to democratic voting reform.”
Since the October 19, 2015 election the Trudeau government has repeated its pledge to make every vote count in the speech from the throne and in the official government response to several petitions calling for equal votes and proportional representation.
“The Liberal election promise on voting reform is very clear,” says Carmichael, “and so is the Charter. Section 15 says Canadians are entitled to equal treatment under the law and equal benefit of the law.”
“That obviously must apply to the law factory itself – to Parliament. The Charter says Canada is a free and democratic society. Equal treatment and equal benefit means Canadian citizens are entitled to equal effective votes and representation in Parliament in direct proportion to the votes cast. That will result in democratic majority governments rooted in the support of a democratic majority of voters.”
“What remains to be decided is exactly how to make every citizen’s vote count equally toward the election of an MP to the House of Commons,” says Carmichael. “Once that is settled, Canadians can look forward to electing in 2019, for the first time, a truly representative Parliament.”
The Trudeau government pledged to appoint a special Parliamentary committee to consult on the design of the voting reform, to table draft legislation in May 2017, and to enact it in time for implementation by Elections Canada in 2019.
“There is some public confusion about what the Parliamentary committee will do”, Carmichael adds, “because Justin Trudeau has said that the Liberal MPs appointed to it will have ‘no preconceived ideas’.”
“He must mean,” says Carmichael, “that they will have no preconceived ideas about the best design for a system of proportional representation for Canadians. This coming year the job of the committee MPs will be, with public advice, to put meat on the bones of the three-party consensus on democratic voting reform.”
Trudeau has reaffirmed his commitment to bold change in several ways. He has acknowledged that some of his election commitments were ambitious and difficult but defends that approach as necessary. He has promised to demand the absolute support of Liberal MPs on budgets, election promises, and defense of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its values.