The House

What's next for electoral reform?

Conservative Scott Reid, NDP MP Nathan Cullen and Mark Holland, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of democratic institutions, discuss the controversy surrounding "MyDemocracy.ca" and the future of electoral reform.
Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef found herself defending her government's new electoral reform survey on Monday. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The two vice-chairs of the House of Commons special committee on electoral reform are pushing the Liberal government to consult them before introducing any legislation this spring.

Despite recent controversies around the committee's report and the Mydemocracy.ca survey, Minister of Democratic Institutions Mayam Monsef has said the government's goal is still to implement a new voting system for 2019 if broad support is found.

"If you want to work on a bill, let's do it together," NDP MP Nathan Cullen told Mark Holland, parliamentary secretary to the minister of democratic institutions, on The House mid-week podcast.

"But don't craft legislation based on some vague survey that has been discredited and then say, 'Here it is House of Commons. This is what we decided based on our interpretation.' Which I think is the point."

The special committee's majority report proposed that the current first-past-the-post system be pitted against a proportional representation option, though the New Democrats and Greens suggested a referendum might not be necessary and no agreement was reached on a specific proposal for a new system.

Members of the House of Commons special committe on electoral reform speak at a press conference. The committee is recommending that the Trudeau government design a new proportional voting system and hold a national referendum to gauge how much Canadians would support it. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Holland says he'll willing to meet with the committee, but Cullen pushed for more than just that.

"We've had meetings where nothing happens. I want to have a meeting where you actually sit down with paper and start to say, 'Here are the elements of a legislative bill to fulfil the prime minister's commitment. Let's work together on it. Don't tell me about meetings and cups of coffee," he said.

Conservative MP Scott Reid says the Opposition will be upset if the government brings them anything that doesn't include what their committee recommended.

"That's what we're interested in hearing about. If you've got something else in mind then you're not working with us," he said in a heated panel discussion. "In the end it's either a yes or a no."

"The government has this absurd position where they say things like, the prime minister has a preferred system, the minister has a preferred system. We're not going to share it with you, it's a big secret. How on earth can we guess what happens now?"

Holland says the Liberals will disclose their preferred system once the survey period ends at the end of December.

"But for us to proclaim ourselves in the middle of a public engagement would negate the public engagement," he said.

Conservative Scott Reid, NDP MP Nathan Cullen and Mark Holland, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of democratic institutions, discuss the controversy surrounding "MyDemocracy.ca" and the future of electoral reform. 21:04

Rona Ambrose to Justin Trudeau: 'Park' electoral reform

The interim leader of the Conservative Party has two simple words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when it comes to electoral reform: park it.

  • Rona Ambrose calls on Trudeau to 'park' electoral reform

"He's made an absolute mess of this file. It's so chaotic, disorganized, and now we have a situation with this website. It's been mocked. It's a joke," Rona Ambrose told The House in a year-ender interview.

Holding a copy of the Report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform, Conservative Interim Leader Rona Ambrose talks to reporters outside the House of Commons after Question Period on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, December 1, 2016. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

"I actually think they need to park this. They need to park it and set this issue aside and start to focus on other issues like job creation and the fact that we have high unemployment."

The interim leader of the Conservative Party has two simple words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when it comes to electoral reform: park it. 2:39