Electoral reform vote coming
“If you look at the last seven elections there were two that produced what you would call a balanced legislature; the other five were somewhat lopsided,’’ MacLauchlan said. “That would be one (reason why) it’s time to consider or reflect upon our democratic or electoral process.’’
The white paper presents three sets of topics for discussion and decision - the method of how Islanders vote, the number and distribution of seats in the legislature and opportunities to enhance election laws and representation in the legislature.
As for the actual voting process, Islanders will be given three choices - stay with the current first-past-the-post system, proportional representation and preferential ballot.
Proportional representation would involve two more choices, such as voting for two or more representatives in a district or voting for a candidate and separately for a party.
The preferential ballot involves ranked choices of two or more competing candidates, from most to least preferred.
Island voters rejected electoral reform in a plebiscite 10 years ago, with 63 per cent voting to stay with the status quo.
However, many say that part of the problem then was Islanders simply weren’t properly engaged and many didn’t understand choices they were given.
Progressive Conservative Leader Rob Lantz says things need to be laid out a lot better this time around.
“(Options) need to be well explained to Islanders and this special committee has a difficult task in front of it,’’ Lantz said. “That will be the challenge, to engage everyone, even those that wouldn’t normally get all that involved.’’
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker says this is a historic opportunity for the province.
“P.E.I. is almost unique. We are small and we have this gift of jurisdiction and if we want to do something bold and innovative we can do it no matter what the issue,’’ Bevan-Baker said. “We could be at the forefront of democratic renewal.’’
In addition, the white paper proposes a modified return to the dual-riding format that existed in P.E.I. prior to 1993.
Specifically, the paper puts forward 24 seats in the legislature that would be elected under the existing model, and an additional four seats that would follow the boundaries of the four federal ridings.
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, left, chats with Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan before proceedings at the legislature Thursday, where the premier tabled the white paper on electoral reform.