Manitoba Greens push for proportional representation

If elected in the 2019 provincial elections, the Green Party of Manitoba says it will introduce mixed-member proportional representation system into the Manitoba Legislature.

Green Party of Manitoba pledge electoral reform in Manitoba

Manitoba's Green Party is pushing for electoral reform in their promise to introduce a proportional representation system if elected this fall. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The Green Party of Manitoba is promising to push for electoral reform by introducing proportional representation, if elected in the 2019 provincial elections.

Greens would introduce a mixed-member proportional representation system into the Manitoba Legislature, deputy leader and Union Station candidate Andrea Shalay announced in a press release Saturday.

"Currently, Manitoba's winner-take-all voting system allows political parties to govern with a majority without having won a majority of the votes," Shalay said. "This is not fair to the majority of the voters and is not how representative government should work."

Based on their proposed system, a majority of 50 seats would be decided by the traditional first-past-the-post system and the remaining seven seats would be filled according to each party's share of the popular vote.

Under a first-past-the-post system, the province is divided into individual districts, everyone in that district has one vote, and the candidate with the most votes becomes the district's MLA. There are a variety of forms of proportional representation, but in all cases, it leads to a stronger correlation between percentage of votes cast and percentage of seats.

In the 2016 provincial elections, the party presumes the Progressive Conservatives would have lost 10 seats and the Greens would have won three if a proportional representation system was in place, according to the press release.

"A proportional representation voting system will give every vote more meaning and result in a more representative and accountable legislature," said Shalay.

In the press release, the Greens made several other pitches for government reform, including enacting measures to allow for more "free votes" in the Legislature so elected MLAs can better represent their constituents.

The party would also require the premier to hold at least two annual town halls, and every minister must provide at least one public forum a year to discuss major departmental initiatives.

Election day falls on Sept. 10.

Other provinces have recently put the idea of switching to a form of proportional representation to a vote, but none passed.

Prince Edward Island's provincial election in April included a referendum on switching to a mixed-member proportional representation system, which narrowly failed to pass with 51.74 per cent voting against it. In December, British Columbia voters more decisively rejected a proportional representation proposal in a referendum, with six out of 10 votes going against it.

Sign up for CBC Manitoba's newsletter for insight into the latest election news. Every week until the campaign ends, we'll send you a roundup of what you need to know.