Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski will be holding meetings in coffee shops in the region to talk with his constituents about upcoming proposed electoral reform.
The Nelson stop on his Summer Democratic Reform Tour will take place 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 17, at Empire Coffee on Vernon St.
Stetski told the Star that if constituents can’t make his scheduled meetings, they can give their opinions directly to the government’s Special Committee on Electoral Reform at www.parl.gc.ca/Committees/en/ERRE.
The committee has met 12 times since since early June. It consists of seven members from the Liberal Party, four Conservatives, one Green, three NDP, and one Bloc Quebecois. It is chaired by Liberal MP Frances Scarpaleggia and its proceedings can be followed online.
The committee’s mandate is to identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems to replace the first-past-the-post system, and to examine mandatory voting and online voting. The committee must report to Parliament by December 1, 2016.
Stetski said the composition of the committee was influenced by NDP MP Nathan Cullen.
Initially the Liberals had a majority on the committee, but “Nathan convinced them to adopt a proportional representation membership, so on the committee the opposition parties have a majority.”
Stetski said the NDP’s preferred method of electoral reform is what he calls true proportional representation, in which, for example, if the Green Party got 15 per cent of the popular vote they would get 15 per cent of the seats.
He said the mechanics of this method would be complicated. Asked if this would mean that some candidates would not get a seat even if they won in their riding, Stetski said, “Potentially, yes.”
Stetski said the NDP is against another system known as the preferential ballot, in which voters would vote for their first and second preferences. He said this could lead to a Liberal government for years to come, because the second choice of many NDP voters would likely be Liberal, and the same for Conservative voters.
Stetski said the goal is fairness.
“In the last two federal elections, parties that only received 39 per cent of the vote formed a majority government with 100 per cent of the power — this is not a fair system,” Stetski wrote in a recent news release.
He said that although the current government promised to make changes, he wants to make sure those reflect the wishes of Canadians.
“Canada has been using its current electoral system since before the invention of the automobile, and there is a broad consensus that changes need to be made. I encourage everyone across our region to join me and be a part of this important conversation about strengthening our democracy.”
Other tour stops in the West Kootenay are:
• Salmo, August 16, 11:30 to 12:30 at the Dragonfly Cafe
• Ymir, August 16, 1:00 to 2:00 at The Goods
• Kaslo, August 17, 4:00 to 5:00 at the BlueBelle Bistro
• Meadow Creek, August 18, 9:00 to 10:00 at Drifters Pub