Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski made two stops in the Elk Valley on Aug. 9, speaking to constituents about Canada’s current voting system. He stopped at Mugshots Café in Fernie between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. before visiting the Sparwood Public Library in the afternoon.
Stetski is touring the riding to gather information about constituents’ opinions on the current voting changes, and what changes, if any, people would like to see.
“It’s good because there is a lot of interest around the riding. We have seen that from some of our mail outs that we have done, where we asked people of their priorities and what they want me to be working on, and government to be working on. Changing our democratic voting system is a priority for many people in the riding,” he told The Free Press.
Currently, the government uses a first-past-the-post voting system, which was adopted from the British government. Many modern countries, including Germany and New Zealand, use a proportional representation system. According to Fairvote.ca, a proportional representaion system is “any voting system designed to produce a representative body (like a parliament, legislature, or council) where the voters are represented in that body in proportion to how they voted.” For example, if 25 per cent of the voters opted for a particular party, that party would assume 25 per cent of the seats in government. The first-past-the-post system is more of a winner takes all system, where the first party to win a majority of the votes creates government.
Last October, the Liberal, NDP and Green parties all supported changing Canada’s voting system in their platforms. According to Stetski, the Liberal government is taking last year’s election results as a sign that Canadians want a change.
“When the Conservatives push on the Liberals in question period, why are you refusing to hold a referendum so the people of Canada can decide if they want this system or not? The answer for the Liberal government is that almost 70 per cent of Canadians last Oct. 19 voted for parties that supported a change to proportional representation. Liberals are saying that was the referendum,” Stetski said.
The government has created a multi-party committee, who is gathering input from Canadians on what changes they would like to see to the voting system. Stetski planned a 14-community tour throughout the riding, and will be presenting a report to the committee on his finding from the Kootenay-Columbia.
“There are some fundamental questions, such as what do you think about electronic voting, should we be moving there? What about mandatory voting, similar to Australia, where if you don’t vote, you get fined? What about voting age changing to 16 from 18?” he said. “Then there is a fundamental question about whether you like our current first-past-the-post system or should we be changing to proportional representation of some sort, and if we are changing what are the options of the models and what do they look like?”
Stetski is encouraging everyone to educate themselves on what type of voting system and other changes they would like to see and to have their input in the discussion. More information can be found on his website, Waynestetski.ndp.ca.