2017 National Seminar – Debate Motion

July 29, 2017

This House supports a national referendum on electoral reform in Canada.All elections in Canada use a system called “first past the post”, whereby the candidate with the most votes in a particular area ( called a riding ) holds the “seat” or represents that area in Parliament regardless of the number of votes they have, as long as it is more votes than their opponents. The political party with the most seats typically forms the government, and if a party has 50% plus one seat, they hold a majority and can effectively rule as they wish without accountability. In Canada, parties will typically form a majority government with much less than 50% of the overall vote in Canada, and usually around 40%. The system has often been criticized by those who believe not all votes are meaningful, and organizations such as Fair Vote Canada (fairvote.ca) have long been advocating for changing to a system of proportional representation ( where in general the number of votes you get overall determines your representation in parliament ). There are other possible alternate systems as well.

As part of the 2015 federal election campaign, Justin Trudeau promised that it would be the last election under our current format. As a result, the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform ( ERRE ) was created.

The committee, made up of representation from all parties, studied the issue and in December 2016 presented a report which recommended a form of proportional representation and that a national referendum be held. The full report can be found here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/wherry-electoral-reform-committee-1.3866879

Despite the suggestions of the committee, in February of 2017, Justin Trudeau announced the government was abandoning all attempts at electoral reform during its term as government and that no changes would be considered for the next federal election in 2019: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-electoral-reform-mandate-1.3961736

Many reasons were cited, including the suggestion that the public had no “desire” for electoral reform:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/wherry-trudeau-electoral-reform-1.3811862

What we are asking you for is a debate about the merits of whether considering the concerns of “first past the post” along with the government’s promises, that a national referendum should be conducted on the issue. As part of the debate, you will need to research some alternatives, but we are asking that debates not engage in technical arguments about the merits of one particular proposed alternative vs. another. Please keep debates to the broader

Please keep debates to the broader issues by showing that:

  1. there are concerns with the current system that need to be addressed and
  2. that the issue is important enough to warrant a national referendum

This is a supplement to the previous information sent out about the prepared topic, which was largely citing resources that were in favour of electoral reform or at best neutral.

The following resources have been suggested by Mr. John Pepall, who will be the speaker on our panel discussion speaking against any changes at all to our current electoral system.

First an article on whether any change should be subject to a referendum:  https://www.fraserinstitute.org/studies/the-imperative-of-a-referendum

The following are articles against reform: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/first-past-the-post-empowered-voters-accountable-government.pdf  http://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/files/pdf/John-Pepall-Electoral-Reform-in-Canada.pdf

Mr. Pepall has written a book on the subject: http://www.utppublishing.com/Against-Reform.html

And his website is here:  http://www.pepall.ca/

Finally, a youtube video from Mr. Pepall.   Scroll to about 7:45 to see where he specifically discusses keeping the current system.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AoumHCrwF0


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