Open Letter to Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield re: Electoral Reform and His Reply

June 1, 2017 12:00 am - 12:00 pm

Organized By

Democracy Guelph


Democracy Guelph

Open Letter to MP Lloyd Longfield,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with members from each or our organizations regarding Electoral Reform.  We particularly appreciate your efforts to work in Parliament despite it’s current divisive adversarial and toxic atmosphere.  We know your work in Guelph prior to entering politics and consider you to be a collaborator and consensus builder.  This is the Canada we want.
We hope you will be representing Guelph on May 31 when you vote to receive the Electoral Reform Committee’s (ERRE) report into Parliament.  You hosted an Electoral Reform town hall in Guelph which was very well attended. 90% of the participants voted in favour of moving towards a Proportional Voting system, and this is the central recommendation from expert witnesses in the ERRE report. The report is in alignment with Justin Trudeau’s promise that “2015 would be the last First Past the Post election”.
We appreciate your concern that the ERRE majority report also includes a  call for a referendum on electoral reform before implementing a new voting system. We agree that the mandate already exists for a new voting system given that the three political parties which promised a new voting system won the large majority of the popular vote in the last federal election. We believe that there is a middle way that you are in an unique position to speak to, and hope you will support receiving this report that contains the input of many communities across Canada.
New Zealand moved from our first past the post system to a proportional voting system in 1996.  After experiencing several elections under their new inclusive style Parliament, they held a referendum to confirm that voters approved the new way of voting. This enabled a much more informed discussion of voting systems with the electorate.  Justin Trudeau is currently backing away from his promise to fix our voting system to “make every vote count”. He has decided that there was not enough broad support for his promise. Yet the majority of the popular vote in the last federal election went to parties promising to change the voting system. And that support is still there. In January, Fair Vote Guelph commissioned a random telephone poll of 1500 homes in Guelph. 78% of those who had an opinion agreed that a Party receiving 39% of the vote should result in about 39% of the seats in Parliament.  Similar polling by Fair Vote Canada across Canada in May has indicated similar support.  Since February, Democracy Guelph has gathered 3,000 signatures in support of a specific proposal for a proportional voting system (Local PR) and this system has been endorsed by leading Guelph Liberal, NDP and, Green supporters.  

Our organizations are engaged in a consensus building process on Electoral Reform and we hope you can speak in favour of the ERRE report and work with others in Parliament who care about improving democracy in Canada.  We feel that rejecting the ERRE report would be disrespectful of the diverse input from thousands of Canadians. Accepting the report and working to replace a pre-implementation referendum with a legislated requirement of a confirmatory referendum after one or two elections would keep a promise made by three political parties to the large majority that voted for them. Please work with others in Parliament to make this happen.
Signed by:
Council of Canadians – Guelph Chapter, Fair Vote Guelph, Guelph Wellington Coalition for Social Justice, Democracy Guelph

Dear Steve,
Thank-you for sending me this letter. 
I was disappointed by the ERRE report, highlighting the need for a referendum.  The Conservatives entered the process with this as their main objective and through the course of the committee work the NDP and Green Parties supported this recommendation.  The Gallagher Index was introduced by one of 196 witnesses, and also became a key point in the final report.  I think the supplemental report from the Liberal committee members highlights well the difficulties encountered in forming the report from the ERRE committee.   Page 321-328 attached.
The ERRE committee was not able to reach consensus, which is key to going ahead with changing something as fundamental as our voting system.  Subsequently, a similar approach was taken by opposition parties to block a discussion on Parliamentary Reform from happening at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
The recommendation of the Liberals on the ERRE Committee (below) is consistent with my thoughts:
Therefore we recommend:
That the Government further undertake a period of comprehensive and effective citizen engagement before proposing specific changes to the current federal voting system. We believe that this engagement process cannot be effectively completed before 2019.
Democracy Guelph is leading the way on this citizen engagement, and looking to spread this across Canada.  I am really pleased with the progress so far.
I am hoping new leadership with the Conservative Party will help us to start to move past the divisive politics in the House of Commons and Senate.
Best regards,
Lloyd Longfield
Member of Parliament – GuelphOttawa: 702 Justice Building, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Tel: 613-996-4758 | Fax: 613-996-9922Guelph: 40 Cork St. E, Guelph, ON  N1H 2W8
Tel: 519-837-8276 | Fax: 519-837-8443
[email protected] |