The P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation is calling foul over the province's upcoming referendum on electoral reform.
The coalition announced Monday it will disband effective Thursday as a response to “repressive rules’’ in the Electoral Systems Referendum Act.
Coalition spokesman Leo Cheverie says the rules are “clearly intended to limit our work to inform and engage Islanders about the benefits of proportional representation.’’
The coalition states it has always welcomed participation, engagement and collaboration with any supporter of proportional representation regardless of party affiliation.
“Sadly, it is now clear that within the current political climate we are now viewed in an unnecessarily adversarial and hostile way,’’ says Cheverie.
“The Referendum Act introduced by the Liberal caucus would place limits on who can work together for electoral reform. The coalition would rather disband than forcibly exclude founding, committed members of the team we built.’’
He added even if Bill 38 is amended or fails to pass, the coalition believe that the most effective structure for achieving proportional representation on P.E.I. is through a broad-based, decentralized citizen network.
“We are convinced that to see proportional representation become reality, it will be more effective for our 12-member organizations and our hundreds of supporters to work independently, rather than under the single banner of the coalition,’’ said Cheverie.
Anna Keenan, who served as campaign director for the coalition in the 2016 plebiscite, encourages new citizen groups to form and for supporters to connect via the new, informal P.E.I. Proportional Representation Network to continue to promote electoral reform.
The coalition notes it was successful in a public education and engagement campaign during the 2016 plebiscite, which resulted in mixed-member proportional representation winning with 10 per cent more support than the current first past the post system.
The P.E.I. government will provide $75,000 in taxpayer funding for both the 'Yes' and 'No' campaigns.
Beyond that, no groups will be permitted to solicit donations or otherwise raise money to pay for advertising or promotion for one side or the other.
In order to qualify to receive some of the combined $150,000 in provincial funding for referendum advertisers, groups must register with the province and face restrictions on who can be a member or a director with their organization.
The question, as was put forward in a government motion in the legislature, is: Should Prince Edward Island change its voting system to a mixed member proportional voting system? No / Yes.