Letter to the Hon. Bardish Chagger


Here is the letter I wrote to my MP the Honourable Bardish Chagger with respect to electoral reform…

19 February 2017

Dear Minister Chagger:

I am writing to offer your government an alternate approach to electoral reform given the recent change in position by the Prime Minister.

I understand and accept how various difficulties made the implementation of your party’s promise on electoral reform very hard to accomplish by 2019. However, the Prime Minister and your party made a clear promise. Not only am I dismayed by the reversal, I am very concerned about the added cynicism toward the public process that your government’s change in position invites.

I believe electoral reform must not be disposed of this easily. I offer the following suggestions to you and your colleagues for consideration.

First, I propose the establishment of a Canadian citizens’ assembly on electoral reform similar to the process conducted in British Columbia and Ontario. Such a non-partisan body made up of randomly-selected Canadians would be asked to:

1) Consider other options for electoral reform based on expert opinion;

2) Conduct public hearings to determine Canadians’ viewpoints;

3) Vote whether to keep the current method of electing MPs or choose another; and

4) If they vote to choose another system, propose an alternative as well as a method of implementing it to be recommended to Parliament.

Naming such an assembly would provide Canadians a unique opportunity for public participation. It would also provide distance from elected officials considering how they are elected, a question in which they almost certainly have a vested interest.

If a citizens’ assembly were to propose an alternative to our current electoral system, I would suggest it be automatically implemented for two elections so Canadians could experience how such a system would work. During the second election, Canadians could then be offered a referendum on whether to maintain the new system or return to first past the post. Such an approach would give Canadians a fair opportunity to see a new electoral system in action and make an informed choice.

In closing, your government made a clear commitment to electoral reform. If consensus about the type of system did not emerge (an aspect that was not part of your promise), then your government must do more to build a consensus. A citizens’ assembly would provide a way to do that.

I look forward to your response on my suggestions.

Thank you

Mark Karjaluoto

CC: The Honourable Karina Gould
Scott Reid, MP
Nathan Cullen, MP
Fair Vote Canada

Just to note that Minister Chagger called me yesterday at home, and we had a very pleasant chat about the electoral reform file. I appreciated her outreach I’ll wait to hear more.

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