Conservatives say their constituents want a referendum on electoral reform

Federal Conservatives say their constituents overwhelmingly support the party's position that a referendum must be held before electoral reform can be implemented.

90 per cent of responses to MP mailouts support a public vote as a pre-requisite to reform

Conservative MP Scott Reid says Conservative MPs say their constituents favour holding a referendum before electoral reform is implemented. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Federal Conservatives say their constituents overwhelmingly support the party's position that a referendum must be held before electoral reform can be implemented.

At an announcement Friday, Conservative MP Scott Reid — his party's democratic reform critic — shared results of a survey mailed by 59 Conservative MPs over the last few months. Reid said the mailout asked constituents whether they agreed or disagreed that a referendum must be held before the federal government implements a new electoral system.

According to Reid, more than 81,000 responses were received and 90.6 per cent of those responses agreed that a referendum was a pre-requisite for reform.

Reid said the question of whether a referendum is necessary has not been sufficiently addressed by other consultations.

More useful than town halls

The Conservatives' position is that the mail survey was more useful than soliciting public opinions via town hall meetings, which can draw a self-selecting audience of only those who are most interested in the issue of reform, he said.

"To fill in the gap, the Conservative caucus has conducted the largest, and only unbiased, exercise in determining the views of Canadians on whether there should be a referendum prior to the adoption of a new electoral system," Reid said.

A report detailing the Conservative survey will be filed with the special House of Commons committee studying electoral reform.

Reid said the Conservative party is open to considering reform, but that it does not officially favour any particular option. 

Earlier this week, federal New Democrats reported that their own consultations and surveys found overwhelming support for proportional representation.

Reid, a member of that committee studying reform, said he hopes consensus amongst the MPs and represented parties can be achieved, but that a referendum is a "bottom line" requirement for Conservatives.

Justin Trudeau's Liberals promised during last year's campaign that the 2015 election would be the last conducted under the first-past-the-post system.

The special committee has been examining the issue and hearing testimony through the summer and early fall. Committee members must report back to the House with their recommendations by December 1.


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