Jason Kenney on Proportional Representation

“Does he have any regard at all for the fact that Canada is now the only multiparty advanced democracy in the world that has a system of voting designed in and for 16th century England when candidates really were non-partisan candidates elected for the purpose of representation?”
Jason Kenney, Alliance MP for Calgary Southeast, AB
February 20th, 2001 / 4:15 p.m.

The other night at the annual Fair Vote Waterloo Holiday Get-Together, there was some speculation about the upcoming Alberta election in which Jason Kenney seeks to reclaim the Alberta Government for his new incarnation of that province’s provincial Conservatives. I was surprised to discover not everyone was aware of Mr Kenney’s strong support of Proportional Representation back in 2001.  [Read Jason Kenney’s whole statement here.]

Proportional Representation is not and has never been a partisan issue.  It only becomes so when a party championing PR gets elected to disproportional power in a winner-take-all political system.  When that happens, the party starts to rethink the wisdom of adopting electoral reform to a voting system that will limit their future power to what they can earn in votes.

At the time Mr Kenney demonstrated his considerable understanding of Canada’s need for Proportional Representation in the Parliamentary debate referenced above, he was an elected Member of Parliament from a regional Alberta party that didn’t (and wasn’t likely to) achieve winner-take-all false majority power any time soon with First Past The Post.

Mr Kenney was initially elected as a federal Reform Party of Canada candidate. Until the Reform Party morphed into a the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance. That’s where he was when he spoke in that 2001 debate. But although the Alliance was able to gain regional traction and win disproportional power in Alberta in a First Past The Post System (much as the Bloc Québécois could in Québéc) he understood that before his party could hope to form government, Canada would need Proportional Representation.

Naturally, the Liberals who held phony majority power under PM Chrétien at the time did not like the idea of Proportional Representation, which would prevent future false majority power by limiting their power in government to what they could actually earn in votes.  Jason Kenney was not alone, in this, there was a lot of support for PR within the Canadian Alliance, up to and including Stephen Harper.  But the parties enjoying disproportional power are never very likely to make voting fair.

The Canadian Alliance had the power of regional concentration without much hope of forming government, while the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada could barely win any seats yet owned the name of one of Canada’s alternating governing parties, so the two merged into the Conservative Party of Canada.  Naturally with its own false majority, suddenly electoral reform was no longer something this new/old party wanted any party of.

During the Harper Government’s decade in power, Canada’s federal Liberals slipped to third place for the first time in history.  So Justin Trudeau ran on a platform of Electoral Reform, but Mr Trudeau’s appetite for electoral reform evaporated with his own false majority.  The BC Referendum was lost by the BC NDP who are convinced they’ll be re-elected, this time with a false majority of their own.

This may sound like bad news, and indeed it is in the short term, but the reality is that more and more Canadians are learning what Proportional Representation is, and just as important, why we need it. And because of this, Proportional Representation just isn’t going away.

Defenders of the Status Quo have been able to stave off Proportional Representation for so very long is because most of us have little experience or understanding of anything but winner-take-all politics.   The fact that 90+ countries use some form of PR is a blessing because there is so much information about how Proportional Representation works.  But it’s also a curse, because detractors can cherry pick the elements or examples of the application  of PR that will make it look the worst.  Because Canadians have so little or no understanding or experience of PR, when they spread misinformation most of us don’t even know they’re talking nonsense.  The moment any province adopts PR, we will see for ourselves that the sky doesn’t fall, and suddenly it will become much harder to sell us misinformation.

The issue is very much alive in Quebec and PEI, (soon to hold another Proportional Representation Referendum)  and Ontario’s Premier Ford is reminding Ontarians why a fair voting system is so important.

Not long ago the UK’s electoral reform referendum failed to even offer Proportional Representation as a choice. When it failed, the powers that be claimed this meant citizens were happy with the way things worked.  And the next referendum gave them BRexit.  Except the people didn’t think so.  Which is why Proportional Representation is back on the table there, too.   And why there is a new John Cleese Proportional Representation video.  Enjoy.

Laurel L. Russwurm

Electoral Reform is Alive and Kicking in Waterloo Region

The Hon. Bardish Chagger’s office reached out to Fair Vote Waterloo to invite a delegation to meet with the Hon. Karina Gould on Electoral Reform.

Cathy Scott, Byron Weber Becker and Bob Jonkman meet the Hon. Karina Gould and her infant son Oliver outside Waterloo City Hall

The Fair Vote Waterloo delegation Cathy Scott, Bryron Weber Becker and Bob Jonkman met with the current Minister of Democratic Institutions, the Hon. Karina Gould (and Oliver) at Waterloo City Hall

The morning meeting was productive.

Later that afternoon, the KW Liberal Association hosted a meet and greet for the visiting Minister just down the street at Patent Social. Fair Vote Waterloo Co-Chair Bob Jonkman attended the open-to-the-public event in hopes of engaging further with Minister Gould.

Local electoral reform advocates from Fair Vote and others rally to remind Minister Gould that electoral reform is still top of mind for many Canadians voters across the political spectrum.

There were excellent opportunities to discuss Proportional Representation with passersby.

Electoral reformers welcomed the opportunity to show off their artwork and discuss Proportional representation with the Minister of Democratic Institutions.

Canadians are (understandably) unhappy that the Liberals’ Electoral Reform promise was so cavalierly broken.

The Hon. Karina Gould was asked some hard questions.

Electoral Reform isn’t a partisan issue.

I found it interesting how many “honks” we got from passing motorists. Perhaps the greatest irony associated with Mr. Trudeau’s broken promise is that the exercise did more to raise Canadian public awareness of Proportional Representation than anything else in my lifetime.

Proportional Representation is an idea whose time has come. And it’s not going away.

(additional photos are available in my Reminding Liberals Flickr Album)


What a turn out for the Waterloo Region Chapter’s AGM.

The numbers keep going up.

You might even think people are serious about wanting equal and effective votes in a proportional representation electoral system.


Reminding Raj Saini about Electoral Reform

Fair Vote WRC visits Raj

Friday’s Petition Crew

To encourage the Liberals to keep their promise to reform our electoral system,on Friday afternoon (November 10th, 2017) we delivered our 500+ signature Fair Vote petition to Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini.  We had a brief opportunity to meet with Mr. Saini to explain our frustrations with his government’s failure to deliver on their oft repeated Electoral Reform Promise.

Mr Saini told us the only reason he voted against accepting the ERRE report was the inclusion of a referendum.  (Of course, had the Liberals on the ERRE Committee had been willing to work across party lines with the Greens and NDP there would have been no need for the inclusion of a referendum in the report.)  He did, however, promise to submit the Petition to the House of Commons.

In case you’ve forgotten, this is what Mr. Saini had to say about electoral reform before he was elected MP.

Watch the UK PR Petition Parliamentary Debate online

Canada’s E-616 petition garnered more than 130,000 signatures.  More than any other Parliamentary e-Petition in Canadian history.  There was some thought that this would lead to an actual Parliamentary Debate on the Electoral Reform process promised by the Trudeau Government.

When a Parliamentary e-petition in the UK exceeds 100,000 signatures. it triggers an actual Parliamentary Debate.  Recently an Electoral Reform Petition resulted in just such a debate.

To make votes matter, adopt Proportional Representation for UK General Elections

Proportional Representation for WestminsterThe vast majority wants PR. Our FPTP voting system makes Parliament unrepresentative. One party got 37% of the vote and 51% of seats, while 3 parties got 24% of the vote but share 1.5% of seats. FPTP violates the democratic principle of majority rule and causes problems like costly policy reversals.

The UK has never had a say on PR. As David Cameron himself said, the AV Referendum was on a system that is often less proportional than FPTP, so the rejection of AV could not possibly be a rejection of PR. In fact, so few voters wanted either system on offer that the turnout was just 42%.

There are tried and tested PR systems that keep the constituency link. They would make every vote matter equally, rather than allowing a minority of swing voters in a few marginal seats to pick the government.
UK Parliament e-petition 168657

This petition ran for 6 months and achieved 103,495 signatures.  The debate was quite interesting, and if you’re interested in taking a look, it is still online. (although I am not sure for how long).  For now at least you can see it here http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c52f8c49-55ac-44c8-bf23-b1705afadaf8 or download the mp3 to watch later.

But even if the video is no longer online, you’ll still be able to read it in Hansard here:
[Of course you won’t get to see the Minister squirm in the text version.]

UK Parliamentary Debate

Both the PR for Westminster and the UK Parliament PR Debate miniposters are Public Domain images..

Open Streets on Sunday!

See you there!

Nathan Cullen #KeepYourPromise Tour in Kitchener

160 people were crammed into a 100 seat room… Kitchener Public Library staff had to turn away as many as 100 others due to fire regulations!

Nathan Cullen talks about Electoral Reform …

… and his work on the ERRE Committee …

…and about the Prime Minster’s broken promise.

Jonathan Cassels spoke about his Electoral Reform Petition e-616

The crowd breaks breaks into small groups…

…brainstorming ideas for the way forward.

…postcards are always popular!

Nathan Cullen with Fairvote Waterloo’s Bob Jonkman, Sharon Sommerville, Don Fraser and Anita Nickerson

Visit our YouTube Channel

Did you know Fair Vote Waterloo has its own FairVoteWRC YouTube Channel?

Fair Vote Waterloo co-chair Sharon Sommerville talks about her feelings of “Real Betrayal” in this 5 minute soundbite from the Day of Action for Electoral Reform.

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More Pictures of the National Day of Action on Electoral Reform, 11 Feb 2017

Pictures from the National Day of Action on Electoral Reform held Saturday, 11 February 2017 at Carl Zehr Square at Kitchener City Hall.

Photos by Laurel L. Russwurm.

Sign: Make My Vote Count


People listening to speakers

Listening to speakers

Sign: Trudeau broke his promise


People rallying


Sam Nabi

Sam Nabi

Catherine Fife

Catherine Fife

Richard Walsh

Richard Walsh

Sign: Perform On Reform

Perform On Reform

Sign: Support Voter Reform | Make Every Vote Count | for Equity, Social Justice, Climate Justice


Two signs: Proportional Representation for a Better Democracy | "First Past The Post", Abuse of Dominance, Abuse of Rights, Bad Corporate Behaviour


David Weber

David Weber

Sign: How Can We Reach Consensus If We Don't Understand Their Alternatives


Supporter in the audience


Sign: Nobody believes Liberal excuses


Sam Nabi and Sharon Sommerville

Sam Nabi and Sharon Sommerville

Unhappy citizens in the audience

Unhappy Citizens

Anita Nickerson

Anita Nickerson

An audience member taking pictures

Taking pictures

Sign: 39 ≠ 100

39 ≠ 100

Sign: Justin, You Promised | Make Every Vote Count


Catherine Fife

Catherine Fife

Sign: Perform On Reform

Big sign

People in the audience


Sign: I want my vote to count

Little sign

Nadia Matos and a camera

CTV News

@Lulex (Louisette Lanteigne) holding a sign: Support Voter Reform | Make Every Vote Count | for Equity, Social Justice, Climate Justice


Bob Jonkman

Bob Jonkman

Sharon Sommerville

Sharon Sommerville



Tiger Hat

Tiger Hat

Sign: Democracy demands trust | R.I.P. Democracy | PR -- the peoples choice | Lies -- the Prime Ministers


Oz Cole-Arnal

Oz Cole-Arnal

Mo Markham

Mo Markham

Sign in the gallery: Make My Vote Count


Louisette Lanteigne

Louisette Lanteigne

Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs

Aden Seaman

Aden Seaman

Stacey Danckert

Stacey Danckert

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

Alim Nathoo

Alim Nathoo

Hat embroidered with the Liberal logo and "Real Betrayal"

Real Betrayal

Rallying dog

Rallying dog

Sign: Just-In | Nous Sommes Canadiens | Not Fringe | We Believed You | Believe In Us | And Just-ice

Nous Sommes Canadiens

Sign: The 1% is the "Fringe" Group PM Trudeau Should Worry About | #PR Now

The 1%

Photos are copyright ©2017 by the photographers, and used under a CC BY-SACreative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license.

Other pictures of the National Day of Action on Electoral Reform

See You Saturday

Saturday at 1:00pm we’ll be rallying for Electoral Reform in Carl Zehr Square at Kitchener City Hall.

Fair Vote Waterloo folk planning for Electoral Reform

Some popular hashtags:

Hope to #SeeYouSaturday