Fight continues for electoral reform on P.E.I.

A community group of Islanders who support proportional representation says they're not done yet, but another referendum isn’t the way to go. 

‘We did not believe in a referendum to begin with’

Islanders for Proportional Representation says another referendum is not the solution for electoral reform. (Al MacCormick/CBC)

A group of Islanders who support proportional representation says it is not done yet, but another referendum isn't the way to go. 

More than 48 per cent of Islanders voted in favour of proportional representation in the recent referendum tied in with the provincial election — the majority cast ballots favouring the current first-past-the-post system.

Despite that, members of Islanders for Proportional Representation said they believe there is still interest in electoral reform and they want to keep it on the mind of government.

"I wouldn't give up this fight very easily," said Marie Burge with IPR.

'Referendum wasn't necessary'

However, the group isn't pushing for another referendum.

Marie Burge, left and Brenda Oslawski are part of the newly formed Islanders for Proportional Representation dedicated to continuing the fight on electoral reform. (Mitch Cormier/CBC)

"We did not believe in a referendum to begin with. The groups that are around the table would say a referendum wasn't necessary in the first place."

Burge said she would like to see the newly formed PC minority government create a body or standing committee on electoral reform. 

A plebiscite in November 2016 ended with 52 per cent of voters supporting Mixed Member Proportional representaition on a ranked ballot that included five electoral systems, including first past the post.

But then-premier Wade MacLauchlan said at 36 per cent, voter turnout was too low to constitute a clear expression of P.E.I. voters.

Still an appetite

Brenda Oslawski with IPR said the issue of proportional representation is going to continue to come up.

John Barrett, chair of No What to Vote says the organization doesn't think Islanders want to continue exploring Electoral Reform. (Brittany Spencer/CBC )

"We felt with almost 50 per cent of people having voted in favour of proportional representation that there was still an incredible appetite for change that worked better than our current system."

She said she felt people didn't know exactly on what they were voting in the last election, and believes referendums haven't been effective at engaging the public.

IPR has only had one meeting, but plans to meet regularly, Oslawski said.

The group that lobbied to keep the current electoral system, No What to Vote, said the result of the referendum showed where the majority of Islanders stand.

In an email to CBC, John Barrett, the chair of No What to Vote, said the organization feels most Islanders don't "wish to have this subject open for further debate at this time."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning


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