A summary report of the forum held at
Mount Royal University, Moot Court Room (EA1031)
9:00am – 12:30 pm, Saturday April 9, 2016
09:00 Introduction: Kevin Heal, Moderator, outlined the format and the reason for the event – to get the issue of electoral reform into the public eye; we hear about it, but what is it? How would it work? Kevin introduced the speakers and timing of the event.
Overview of Canadian Electoral System:
Dr. Duane Bratt, Chair, Faculty of Policy Studies, Mount Royal University.
Dr. Bratt outlined the different electoral systems in use around the world and warned that changing the electoral system also affects the way people vote, so different results may be expected.
Looking Around the World:
Dr. Ian Brodie, Associate Professor, Law & Society Program, University of Calgary, former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Canada.
Dr. Brodie defended the present ‘First-Past-The-Post’ plurality/majority system, on the basis it had served the nation well and he saw no reason to change; he pointed out that under Germany’s Mixed Member Proportional system, one MP had held office (and been Foreign Minister) for 29 years. Dr. Brodie indicated Canada likes an electoral system where the electorate can ‘throw the bums out’ and ‘elect a new set of bums’ until the electorate tires of them and again elects a new set of ‘bums’.
First Nation Inclusion in Democratic Renewal:
Michelle Robinson, Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission of Alberta.
Ms. Robinson pointed out the shortcomings of the present democratic system as indicated by recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and from the United Nations Declaration of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
A New Voting System for Canada:
Mark Hambridge, Fair Vote Calgary.
Mr. Hambridge reviewed the conclusions and recommendations of the Law Commission of Canada from 2004 and spoke about how proportional representation, now desired by 70% of Canadians, could be put into effect. Since more than 63% of Canadians had voted in October 2015 for parties promising electoral reform or proportional representation, he called for the new government to Get On With It!
Panel discussion followed by Q&A
A wide variety of topics were covered in the panel discussion – the most interesting question dealt with the possible unintended consequences of changing the electoral system, such as costs, time taken to organise an election and how the whole party system might change as new types of MP might be elected.
12:30 Moderator’s Review of proceedings and wrap up.
A more comprehensive report of the proceedings is intended to follow, including the presentations by the individual speakers.
The session was open to the general public and attended by about 35 people.