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I am writing pursuant to the Feb. 2 letter of Gerard Mitchell, P.E.I. Referendum Commissioner. Mitchell provides an explanation of a compensatory Mixed Member Proportional electoral system, which is the subject of an upcoming provincial referendum set out in the Electoral System Referendum Act. Mitchell references Schedule 2 of the said Act as the basis for his explanation.
Unfortunately, the explanation in his letter does not match the text of Schedule 2 of the Act. While Mitchell describes how a compensatory Mixed Member Proportional system would work, the description in Schedule 2 merely refers to the proposed system as being "compensatory" or "top-up" but does not describe exactly how the top-up would function. The only reference of how to do the top-up is in the final line of Schedule 2 which reads: "Election law will, pursuant to the D'Hondt method, determine the number of list seats each party is entitled to when the popular vote results (expressed as a percentage) would give a party a fraction of a seat." Mitchell's letter discusses how list seats get allocated with respect to popular vote for all nine list seats; however, Schedule 2 identifies the method of top-up only when popular vote would provide a political party "a fraction of a seat." The legislation is therefore flawed or incomplete because it does not address how all list seats are determined (not just fractions of seats).
Perhaps, Mitchell's letter captures what he believes was the intention of the legislation. Unfortunately, the legislation appears not to express what Mitchell has read into it. This is significant because, I believe, the current wording of Schedule 2 seems to describe a Semi-Proportional Mixed Member System more so than a Compensatory Mixed Member Proportional System and, should Islanders vote to adopt a new electoral system in the Referendum, a new government would have some flexibility in the final design of the new system. In either case, I am totally supportive of any change to our electoral system that adds the value of proportionality, better reflecting the wishes of the Island electorate as a whole. The old system is holding back our democracy and I think now is the time to move forward together with better electoral processes.