Kootenay-Columbia meetings will discuss electoral reform

Nelson’s meeting will be at the Seniors’ Centre, 717 Vernon St., on Sunday, September 25 at 7:00 p.m.

Ann Remnant (front centre) recently organized this group of NDP

Ann Remnant (front centre) recently organized this group of NDP

A local couple has organized a series of community meetings across the Kootenay Columbia riding to talk about electoral reform.

Ann Remnant and Sjeng Derkx say that what they learn from the sessions will be sent to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, which wants to hear from Canadians before October 7 on choosing a new voting system for Canada. Remnant says she and Derkx are offering this series of meetings under the auspices of Fair Vote Canada, a non-partisan organization.

Proponents of electoral reform want a voting system that would avoid having governments elected by less than 50 per cent of the popular vote and that would make each party’s number of seats proportional to the number votes they received.

Bringing in such a system was one of the campaign promises of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Remnant has long been associated with the Green Party, and Derkx was the candidate for the party in the last provincial election, but Remnant says this is a non-partisan effort.

She says her interest in electoral reform preceded her membership in the Green Party.

“I have been really interested in proportional representation ever since I first heard about it back in 2005, with the BC Citizens Assembly and the referendum. I had not been interested in politics to that point. I thought it was too confrontational, and all they did was yell at each other, so this looked like a no-brainer. You would have people working together to reflect what the voters actually voted for.

“From there I went to the Green Party mostly because the other parties spoke against proportional representation at that time. It was proportionality that led me to the Green Party, not the other way around.”

Remnant says the presentations will include information on why our current electoral system needs to be updated, which options are being considered, the pros and cons of those options and what the impact would be in Kootenay-Columbia.

Those options include Mixed Member Proportional, the Single Transferable Vote, and Rural-Urban Proportional.

She said neither her group nor Fair Vote Canada favours one specific method.

“We want to be hands-off about that and put it out there and let people make up their own minds. Anything that produced a decent amount of proportionality will be so much better than we have now.”

Remnant says the meetings will be a success if people listen to each other.

“Success is about having a great discussion.”

Nelson’s meeting will be at the Seniors’ Centre, 717 Vernon St., on Sunday, September 25 at 7:00 p.m.