News / Canada

Some facts about the report tabled Thursday by the election reform committee

OTTAWA — A special all-party Commons committee is recommending a new proportional voting system, along with a national referendum to gauge public support for changing the way Canadians vote. Some facts about the committee and its report.

Membership: 12 MPs from all five parties in the Commons, with the opposition holding a majority of seats.

Hearings: 57 meetings across the country.

Witnesses: 196 formal submissions and 567 people who spoke at open microphones during the process.

Consultations: 22,247 people responded to an online consultation.

Written submissions: 574.

Other submissions: Individual MPs produced 172 reports on various types of  consultations with constituents, along with similar reports from the Conservative and NDP caucuses.

Some of the recommendations:

— The government should hold a referendum asking Canadians to choose between the current electoral system and a new system.

— Elections Canada should conduct a public education campaign explaining the options in a referendum.

— In developing a new, proportional electoral system, the government should use what is known as the Gallagher index, a tool to measure the level of distortion between the popular vote and resultant seat allocations in Parliament, with the lower the score, the better. A new system should score five or less. The present system rates a 17.

— The question of how to improve the accessibility of voting for those with disabilities be referred to the Commons committee on procedure and House affairs.

 — A decision on mandatory and online voting should be put off to another day.

— Any new system should seek to raise voter turnout and increase the possibility for historically disenfranchised and underrepresented groups to be elected.

— The Canada Elections Act should be changed to offer a financial incentive for political parties to run more women candidates.

— A dissenting Liberals-only "supplementary" report said Canadians have not been sufficiently engaged in the issue and recommends against a referendum.

— The Liberal report recommends that the government undertake "a period of comprehensive and effective citizen engagement" before proposing any specific voting system, and abandon hope of doing so before the next election.

 Quote: "This report sets out the primary considerations for electoral system reform in Canada. It can be used as a framework for both the government and civil society to engage in the discussion and process moving forward." — Liberal MP and committee chairman Francis Scarpaleggia.