First-past-the-post system will be an option in P.E.I. referendum

The premier's office has confirmed that the first-past-the-post voting system — used now for provincial elections — will be one of the options in the upcoming referendum on electoral reform.

Opposition calling for more debate on electoral reform

The P.E.I. government plans to hold a referendum on electoral reform at the same time as the next provincial election. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Premier Wade MacLauchlan's office has confirmed that the first-past-the-post voting system — used now for provincial elections — will be one of the options in the upcoming referendum on electoral reform.

The province previously said Islanders will be given two choices, with mixed member proportional representation (the voting system that received the most votes in the 2016 plebiscite) being one of them.

The referendum will be held at the same time as the next provincial election, scheduled for no later than October 2019.

Opposition calling for debate

Opposition Leader James Aylward said the confirmation of the second option, and the lack of information on next steps in the process, suggests the premier has his sights set on a particular outcome for the referendum.   

Opposition Leader James Aylward says he's concerned the premier won't debate in the legislature about the referendum. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"It's nice that he will go public, but he won't answer those questions in the legislative assembly," Aylward said. "I'm really hoping that the premier hasn't already made up his mind on what this referendum will look like without having this debate in the legislative assembly."

Mark Greenan, with the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation, is disappointed to hear the existing system will be the other option.

Mark Greenan, of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation, is disappointed the first-past-the-post system will be the second option for the referendum. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

"It is surprising that our Liberal government would seem to want to be defenders of politics as usual on Prince Edward Island," Greenan said. "It seems clear to me something that drove the results of the plebiscite in the fall of 2016 was that Island voters are looking for something better."

In a statement to CBC, the premier's office said details around the referendum question have yet to be finalized, and will be addressed in the upcoming sitting of the legislative assembly.

The next sitting of the house begins April 5.

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Jessica Doria-Brown


Jessica Doria-Brown is a videojournalist with CBC in P.E.I. Originally from Toronto, Jessica has worked for CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.

With files from Laura Chapin