Neil Young among artists, activists urging Trudeau government to reform electoral system

A collection of activists, political players and artists — including musician Neil Young — is calling on Justin Trudeau's Liberal government to keep its promise to implement a new federal electoral system in time for the 2019 election.

Alliance calls on Liberals to keep platform promise to replace Canada's 1st-past-the-post system

Jean-Pierre Kingsley, former chief electoral officer, left, and rocker Neil Young are among those calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow through on his pledge to reform the voting system before the next election. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press/CBC)

A collection of activists, political players and artists — including musician Neil Young — is calling on Justin Trudeau's Liberal government to keep its promise to implement a new federal electoral system in time for the 2019 election.

"We congratulate the newly appointed minister, the Hon. Karina Gould, and urge her to move to implement the key recommendation of the parliamentary committee and move to a system of proportional representation for the next federal election," reads a statement signed by former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, environmentalist David Suzuki, musicians Neil Young and Sarah Harmer, and artist Robert Bateman, among others.

The statement was issued by the Every Voter Counts Alliance, which is sponsored by the Broadbent Institute, Fair Vote Canada and various other organizations and labour unions, including Unifor and CUPE.

Karina Gould was appointed minister of democratic institutions earlier this month, replacing Maryam Monsef. In joining cabinet, she inherited a file that has challenged the Trudeau government for more than a year.

A report by a special committee of MPs was delivered to Parliament in December, and recommended that the federal government hold a referendum on some form of proportional representation. But the recommendation was not unanimous and even some of those who supported it — the New Democrats and Greens — also questioned the necessity of a referendum.

Monsef subsequently launched an online consultation that was derided by opposition MPs.

Neither Gould nor Trudeau has yet explained how the federal government will move forward.

"The government now has both the challenge and the opportunity to design a proportional system which it can and which it would support," Kingsley said on Thursday, referring back to the committee's report.

"The earlier the government tables its proposal, the greater the opportunity for Canadians to consider it, to debate it and to understand it."