LETTER TO TRUDEAU: SINGH - Electoral Reform

LETTER TO TRUDEAU: SINGH - Electoral Reform

Postby Oscar » Fri Nov 06, 2020 7:30 pm

November 4, 2020

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

As you know, Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system consistently produces parliaments that do not
reflect the true preference of Canadian voters.

This parliament has proven once again that false majorities are not required to make Parliament work.

Only months after an election that produced a minority government, an unprecedented global
pandemic broke out. Despite its many twists and turns, this parliament rose to the occasion and
authorized a pandemic response that kept millions of Canadians housed and fed during the biggest
social and economic upheaval we have faced in generations.

This shows both an opportunity for and the importance of finding a way forward on important
democratic reforms. New Democrats want to find a way forward toward the kind of reform we know
Canadians would like to see in a spirit of cooperation and openness.

There is growing momentum behind the idea of a citizens’ assembly to craft an effective way forward on
voting reform. 80% of Canadians would support such an initiative, and we are ready to work with you to
make it a reality.

The negotiation and compromise characteristic of this parliament are key contributors to the success we
have seen. Across the globe, countries with proportional representation have mounted some of the
most effective pandemic responses. This is not in spite of, but because of, the fact that their voting
systems promote a wider distribution of power and require more collaboration between political parties
in order to govern.

Canadians understand these dynamics very well. A recent Leger poll shows that 97% of Canadians want
a democratic system that encourages parties to work together more in the public interest. The same poll
shows that 93% of Canadians support the idea that laws passed in Parliament should have the support
of parties representing at least 50% of voters.

In the last parliament, the Special Committee on Electoral Reform played an important role in advancing
the conversation about voting reform. New Democrats were heartened that the committee was able to
propose a path forward and share the disappointment of countless Canadians that your government
chose not to embark on that path.

That decision was a hard lesson for the country about the role of cynicism in electoral politics. Upon
reflection, it was also a lesson in the perils of counting on the people who have a vested interest in the
current system to develop proposals to change it.

I note with interest that the Supplemental Report of the Liberal members of the Special Committee on
Electoral Reform recommended: “That the Government further undertake a period of comprehensive
and effective citizen engagement before proposing specific changes to the current federal voting
system.” A citizens’ assembly would be in keeping with this recommendation.

By your own declaration, 2015 was to be the last election under the first-past-the-post-system. We all
know that was not the case, but that fact should not preclude progress on voting reform for a
generation.

It is up to us as Canadians’ representatives to keep moving the ball forward. While a majority of
Members of Parliament may not be able to agree on a new voting system, it remains to be seen whether
we could agree to entrust Canadians to find the best way forward in a citizens’ assembly.

New Democrats believe we can, and should, take that next step. With your support we could do that
without delay.

It is not too late to keep your promise to end the first-past-the-post system and redeem your reputation
as an honest advocate of voting reform. Your next steps will tell the tale. I look forward to your prompt
reply.

Sincerely,

Jagmeet Singh, MP (Burnaby South)
Leader, Canada’s New Democrat
Oscar
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