Politics

Trudeau open to electoral reform talks if re-elected but won't support proportional representation

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he remains open to getting rid of Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system if his party is re-elected, provided there's consensus on the issue — something he says was lacking in the past. 

Trudeau says ranked ballot is his preference because it makes for less-divisive elections

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau told reporters in Aurora, Ont., on Saturday that he would be open to revisiting electoral reform but he that would not support changing Canada's electoral system from first past the post to proportional representation. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he remains open to getting rid of Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system if his party is re-elected, provided there's consensus on the issue — something he says was lacking in the past. 

Trudeau says, however, that he would not favour proportional representation as an alternative, because it "gives more weight to smaller parties that are perhaps fringe parties." 

Instead, he says a ranked ballot would be his preference because it contributes to less divisive elections. 

"This is something that we approached years ago. There was no consensus. If ever there is more of a consensus, it could be interesting to follow up on, and I'd be open to that, 'cause I've never flinched in my desire for ranked ballots," he said during a stop in Aurora, Ont.

"But that's not the priority, and this is the first time in 36 days that anyone has asked me about about electoral reform."

WATCH | Trudeau talks about electoral reform

Trudeau talks about electoral reform

1 month ago
1:14
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says a ranked ballot would be his preference, because he thinks it contributes to less divisive elections. 1:14

The Liberal leader first raised the prospect of electoral reform in 2015 by promising that the federal election held that year would be the last to use the first-past-the-post method, a pledge he would ultimately renege on. 

Under a ranked ballot that Trudeau favours, voters mark their first, second and subsequent choices. If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote, the contender with the fewest votes is dropped from the ballot and his or her supporters' second choices are counted. That continues until one candidate emerges with a majority.

NDP, Greens support change

Under first-past-the-post, voters pick one candidate in their riding and the person with more votes than any other candidate wins the riding. The successful candidate doesn't need to win a majority of votes to take the riding.

Advocates of electoral reform want this changed to some other voting system, such as proportional representation, which they say would reduce the practice of strategic voting and more accurately reflect voters' views.

The NDP has committed to replacing our voting system with mixed-member proportional representation as part of their first mandate, if elected.

Under mixed-member proportional representation, voters have to make two choices on a ballot: one for a candidate to represent them locally and one for a party.

The Green Party supports proportional representation but is not advocating for a particular model. 

The Conservative Party's platform  does not include electoral reform.

Since Trudeau's initial promise, two provinces have held referendums on electoral form.

In December 2018, British Columbians voted against moving to proportional representation by 61 per cent to 39 per cent. Four months later, in Prince Edward Island, the vote was different but the verdict was the same, with Islanders saying no to proportional representation by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

With files from CBC News

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