As promised in his inaugural throne speech, the premier has initiated the process toward electoral reform.
The premier’s office released its white paper on democratic renewal on July 9, 2015.
Included in this defining document were options for our basic voting system. One of these options appeared to be given preferential treatment.
A special committee on democratic renewal was struck. This committee was to be consensus- based as much as possible. From October 14 to Nov. 16, nine public meetings were held across the island and 112 presentations were made to this committee.
Most presenters questioned the compressed timeline and the lack of resources used to facilitate public participation.
If the premier had shown as much interest in this process as he did in promoting live-bottomed trailers, many more Islanders likely would have been engaged.
The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal tabled its initial report on Nov. 27. It recommended a second series of public consultations from mid-January to mid-March, 2016. It recommended that a public education campaign on electoral systems is required prior to a plebiscite taking place.
It also noted that: “the system most advocated was proportional representation.”
In the premier’s year-end interview with the CBC, he stated: “I’m not a believer in proportional representation.”
He also said: “We shouldn’t be trying to upset the apple cart.”
As of today there is no mention of further public meetings on the democratic renewal website. In the Nov. 12 Guardian editorial “the premier says he’s all for discussion and debate but there comes a time to make a decision.”
The countless hours dedicated to this process by the committee members and the people who presented to it, were of little value, it seems, to the premier. His decision was made before the process began.