Voting reform needed after N.B. election
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | 12:54 PM ET
New Brunswick must overhaul its electoral system after the Progressive Conservatives won a staggering majority government with less than half the popular vote, according to Fair Vote Canada.
Premier-designate David Alward's Tories won a massive majority government on Monday, electing 42 MLAs compared to 13 Liberals.
While the Progressive Conservatives will have an overwhelming majority inside the legislative assembly, the majority of New Brunswickers actually voted for different parties on Sept. 27.
Larry Gordon, the executive director of Fair Vote Canada, a group that advocates for electoral reform, said the method of electing MLAs on a riding-by-riding basis has distorted the will of the voters.
"The opposition is severely under-represented and the 17 per cent of the electorate supporting parties other than the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals have no representation whatsoever," Gordon said.
NDP Leader Roger Duguay waves to supporters in his riding of Tracadie-Sheila. The NDP won 10 per cent of the popular vote in Monday's election but was shut out of seats. (CBC)Under New Brunswick's traditional voting method, Alward won 48 per cent of the vote but received 76 per cent of the legislature's 55 seats.
The province's Liberals won 34 per cent of the popular support but will enter the next legislative assembly with 24 per cent of the seats.
Gordon said the results prove New Brunswick should have adopted the recommendations from the 2005 Commission on Legislative Democracy that pushed for a proportional representation system.
Under that system, voters would have sent 28 Tories, 13 Liberals, five New Democrats and three Green MLAs.
The commission, which was launched by then premier Bernard Lord, made a series of recommendations on improving how the legislature works, boosting citizen engagement and correcting perceived flaws in the electoral system.
The commission recommended a mixed member proportional system, which would have a series of MLAs elected in a similar fashion as is done currently but with larger ridings.
And then voters would mark a second ballot for their preferred party and the remaining seats would be distributed on the basis of popular vote.
Lord responded to the commission's report shortly before he called the 2006 election and he said he would put the idea of overhauling the electoral system to a referendum in the 2008 municipal election.
But Lord was ousted from office by Graham's Liberals and the new government did not proceed with the referendum.