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Charlottetown MP votes his conscience on electoral reform

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey.
Charlottetown MP Sean Casey.

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey says he was representing his constituents when he stood as one of only two Liberal MPs in Ottawa who voted in favour of electoral reform Wednesday.

The vote held in the House of Commons was on whether Parliament would adopt the report of an all-party special committee that studied electoral reform in 2016 and recommended a referendum on changing Canada’s voting system to proportional representation.

The report was defeated in a vote of 146 – 159 on Wednesday afternoon.

Casey says the results of P.E.I.’s 2016 plebiscite on electoral reform, in which a majority of Islanders voted in favour of Mixed Member Proportional Representation, informed his vote Wednesday.

“Back in November, more than 9,000 of the people that I represent cast their ballots in the provincial plebiscite and about two-thirds of them indicated that they wanted to move away from the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system at a provincial level,” Casey told The Guardian after the vote.

“That, to me, was a very, very clear indication of the will of my constituents and that’s what I was sent here to do, to project their voice. So that’s what I did.”

EDITORIAL: Last chance for reform

This vote was seen by many as a last ditch effort to push electoral reform back on the government’s policy agenda after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated in February his government would not proceed with his election promise to scrap the current FPTP voting system.

The Liberal caucus did not whip the vote Wednesday, allowing MPs to vote differently from their party if they so chose. Only Casey and Toronto MP Nate Erskine-Smith voted in favour of the electoral reform committee report from the Liberal caucus.

Now that it has been defeated, Casey says he does not expect to see electoral reform return to the government’s agenda within this mandate.

When asked for his personal views on electoral reform, Casey said his own views “are entirely irrelevant,” as he was elected to represent the voice of Islanders.

“But for what it’s worth, I think that there are problems with every electoral system, including the one we have and including proportional representation, but that’s irrelevant to what I did today,” Casey said.

“What I did today was represent the views of the people who sent me here.”

He says he has no plans to raise the issue with Premier Wade MacLauchlan, as it is not his place to meddle the affairs of the provincial government.


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