Northwest constituents weigh in on electoral reform

The large majority of Skeena-Bulkley Valley constituents said they would like Canada to have a proportional voting system.

The large majority of Skeena-Bulkley Valley constituents who participated in last week’s telephone town hall about the electoral reform said they would like Canada to have a proportional voting system.

While 81 per cent of participants said “yes, we need a proportional system,” only 19 per cent said “no, the current first-past-the-postsystem is okay.”

This was one of three polls conducted during Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen’s telephone town. Over 3400 constituents joined in, including people from the furthest corners of the riding such as Bella Bella, Ocean Falls, Hagensborg and Stewart.

When asked if parties should win about the same percentage of seats as the percentage of votes that parties get, 83 per cent of participants said “yes” while 17 per cent said “no.”

When asked what was the most appropriate way for the government to reform the voting system, 41 per cent of participants said “try new system, then have referendum,” 39 per cent said “referendum,” and 20 per cent said “multiple parties agreeing.”

The three polls drew 558 responses. During the telephone town hall, Cullen also answered questions from participants.

“The calibre of the questions was outstanding and we covered a lot of ground, taking questions on issues ranging from the mechanics of alternative voting systems to fears about losing local representation to skepticism about the government’s will to actually change a system that bought them a huge majority with only 39 per cent of the popular vote,” Cullen said. “One thing that came through particularly loudly and clearly on the call is the mood for change in how Canadians vote for MPs.”

“Folks here in Skeena-Bulkley Valley, as with millions of people around the country, are telling us they want every vote to count,” he continued.

“We’re seeing a groundswell for electoral change everywhere that holds tremendous promise to strengthen our democracy and country for generations to come.”

While the 63-minute call meant only a fraction of the 64 questions logged could be answered directly or in summary, Cullen said he will continue to personally answer all riding queries to his offices and social media accounts.

The federal government has committed to have a new voting system put in place before the next federal election.

Cullen, who’s part an all-party Parliamentary committee selected to review the electoral reform, has been hitting the road to consult citizens across the northwest about their best ideas and hopes to improve democracy. Topics discussed include changing the first-past-the-post voting system, introducing online and mandatory voting, as well as lowering the voting age.

No meetings were held in Burns Lake.