Liberals 'dragging their heels' on electoral reform, critic says

Kelly Carmichael, executive director of Fair Vote Canada, says the federal government is dragging its heels on electoral reform.

The Trudeau Liberals promised electoral reform as part of its election campaign in 2015

The Liberals made a campaign promise to introduce electoral reform in 2015. A critic says the government has been slow to do so since being elected. (CBC)

After a year of debate, discussion, a travelling parliamentary committee and a widely mocked online survey, a critic says the federal government is still no closer to introducing electoral reform.

Kelly Carmichael, executive director of Fair Vote Canada, a non-profit that advocates for electoral reform, told CBC's The Early Edition the federal government seems to be delaying the changes.

"It feels like they're dragging their heels and taking us back to the beginning," Carmichael said.

Justin Trudeau promised electoral reform in his campaign leading up to the 2015 election.

The country currently uses the first-past-the-post system where the candidate who receives the most votes in a riding wins.

According to Carmichael, the system means millions of votes don't go towards a winning candidate.

"In 2015 election, over nine million voters — more than 52 per cent of the voters in that election — were unable to cast a ballot that actually elected somebody," she explained.

"We had more people that chose candidates that lost than won."

She would like to see a system of proportional representation implemented where the percentage of votes received translates into the same percentage of seats received.

The special parliamentary committee appointed this year to study the issue also recommended some form of proportional representation be used in its December report. They said the issue should be put to a referendum.

Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef criticized the report and that recommendation. Instead, the government launched an online survey meant to spur public discussion.

Online survey of dubious value: Carmichael

Carmichael said she hoped the issue wouldn't get dragged into a referendum, and she was equally puzzled by the online survey.

She said her organization has received many complaints about the survey, from technical problems to issues with how the questions are phrased.

"What value does it have?" she asked. "If this website had been launched at the beginning of the process [eight months ago] ... this would have been a great survey at that time."

The survey at was supposed to close today, but has been extended until Jan.15, 2017.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Will electoral reform happen in the new year?