Editor: The next couple of years promise to be an interesting period in Island politics — a time, perhaps for new beginnings and initiatives. Both the Liberals and the PCs will have fresh leadership; the Greens and the NDP already have capable “newish” leaders in place. Wouldn’t it be great if all four parties were represented in our Island Legislature?
And that brings me, again, to the issue of electoral reform. Might it not be time to revisit that issue – one in which the Island was once seen as a leader in Canada. Next year will mark a decade since our 2005 Electoral Reform Referendum. Perhaps Islanders might now see the wisdom in a reform less radical than that proposed 10 years ago.
As a start in this discussion, I suggest that we revisit a research paper written by Andrew Cousins in the year 2000, for the Institute of Island Studies (you can find it on-line at upei.ca/iis). Mr. Cousins suggested a supplementary electoral system, with 20 members elected “first-past-the-post” (like at present), in 20 constituencies. To these would be added 10 supplementary members, elected from party lists, on the basis of the province-wide vote. For each 10 per cent of the vote, an individual from a list would join the Legislature.
There could be many variations to such a system, with provision made, for instance, that there be an equal number of women and men elected from the lists, as well as for even geographical distribution, and so on.
There would be two major advantages to such an electoral system: 1) it would assure a reasonably strong Opposition in the Legislature, comprising at least four or five members; 2) it would give both the NDP and the Greens a very good chance of electing at least one member, province-wide.
At the same time, it would provide stability — as well as a higher degree of proportionality.
Even a relatively modest change, like this one, would place us in the vanguard of electoral reform in Canada.