Premier's comments upset election reform group

Nigel Armstrong
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A meeting in Charlottetown Wednesday night was held to discuss proportional representation and was sponsored by the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation. From left are Chris Sallie, Jordan MacPhee, representing ECOPEI and Florence Larkin. 

“I’m not a believer in proportional representation," MacLauchlan says

Comments made by Premier Wade MacLauchlan during end-of-year interviews with the media don't sit well with people wanting election reform on P.E.I.

The P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation held a meeting Wednesday in Charlottetown and MacLauchlan's comments were the first order of business.

Proportional representation is a system of running elections to ensure the Legislature has the same party structure as the popular vote.

If the Island had such a system during the last election in May 2015, there would be two or three MLAs in the Legislature right now from both the NDP and Green parties, says the coalition.

The meeting heard that MacLauchlan told one media outlet “I’m not a believer in proportional representation.”

During a year-end interview with The Guardian's Teresa Wright this past December, he said of electoral reform that "Islanders are not fully engaged in this whole question right now."

"I'm of two minds about it," said Marie Burge, co-ordinator of Wednesday's meeting.  "Sometimes statements like that could be ignored."

The meeting of 35 people broke into five groups to  discuss what to do about MacLauchlan's comments.

Four of the groups said he should be called to task for influencing public opinion on the issue, but one group suggested moving on without comment.

"In our group we had some concerns that it may be too late to respond," said group reporter Josie Baker. "At this point we can be preparing for future remarks that he might make.

"What we really need is a concerted education campaign to ensure that people understand (proportional representation) and want to go for it," said Baker.

"The premier shouldn't be anywhere near the process," said group reporter Jordan MacPhee.

Next, the groups looked at issues surrounding a question about election reform that will be put to Islanders as a  plebiscite some time later this year.

A committee formed by government said in a report to the Legislature last November that the plebiscite question should be in two parts, with the first asking Islanders if they want change, and the second part giving four  alternative election models.

Group reporter Karalee McAskill said the design of the plebiscite question should include ranking scales, like "rate your satisfaction on a scale from one to five,"  rather than yes or no answers.

Other groups said the options for new election models should be also be ranked, from one to four, rather than having Islanders choose just one.

"We need to get information out and have people come together in their own communities and talk about the issue (of proportional representation)," said Burge.

She said a subcommittee of the coalition meets regularly to plan education events and strategies so Islanders should expect to hear more on the topic through 2016.

Organizations: P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation, NDP

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Here We Go
    February 05, 2016 - 17:23

    So , 35 people want to change the way Islanders vote ... good grief give it up and find something to keep you busy . I never heard Marie Burge complain about this when Binns was in power , whats up with that ???

  • Deja Vu
    February 05, 2016 - 15:48

    That's exactly what Pat Binns said last time around... when he jacked the percentage of vote required for change to 60 %. Wade should in all fairness refrain commenting in the future, even though we all know the two main parties do not want electoral fairness.

  • martin
    February 05, 2016 - 10:44

    Get use to it, did you ever think King Wade would ever change the current system.You must have been dreaming if you did.

    • don
      February 05, 2016 - 13:24

      wait till the next election i am sure wade will tell you like he did before he got in about proportional representation. then after he gets in he will have his memory erased. just like ghiz . all the promises he made and how many did he fill?? wade is operating from the same book. when will you liberal voters wake up??

  • kyle
    February 05, 2016 - 08:59

    This is getting like the Que, refer....... if they don`t get what they want they want another try.

  • Jordan
    February 05, 2016 - 08:35

    Electoral reform is not a partisan issue. The article seems to imply that only the Greens and NDP would benefit from proportional representation (PR) because they would have won more seats in the last election, but the main benefit is that the legislature would accurately reflect the wishes of voters under PR, including Liberal and PC voters. In this past election, despite the two main parties having only a 3% difference in their share of the vote, the Liberals won more than double the seats that the PCs did. PR would prevent election results like this. The election results in the 2000s were even more extreme. In 2000, the PCs received less than 60% of Islanders' votes, but were rewarded with 26/27 seats in the legislature, 96%, while the Liberals with over 33% of the popular vote won a single seat, 4%. The 2003 election wasn't much better, and in 2007, the pendulum swung the other way when the Liberals received just over 50% of the popular vote and won 23/27 seats, 85%, while the PCs with over 40% of the vote won only 4 seats, 15%. It's clear that an improved electoral system wouldn't just help the smaller parties, it would prevent undeserved, lopsided majorities, and would benefit every Islander by having our legislature more accurately reflect voters' wishes.

  • no thanks
    February 05, 2016 - 07:25

    doesn't matter which way you do it - you are still going to get toothless "politicians"---MONEY RULES

  • Politics
    February 04, 2016 - 20:27

    Simple, tell him to butt out and mind his own business. This Premier is away out of line interfering with a process put in place with a mandate thas effects all Islanders. The Premier forgets he is only one person on every issue, if you require his advice ask him, I am sure would not require it.

  • Tommy
    February 04, 2016 - 20:20

    Oh dear and let me guess the group are supporters of the NDP or Green....god love yas! Sorry but both parties are a real waste of money and time ...just saying!