Connect with us
[the_ad id="89560"] [the_ad id="89560"]

National

Prince Edward Island poised for battle over ’18th century’ voting system

Published

on

If you like this, share it!

CHARLOTTETOWN — A referendum law that could see the cradle of Confederation become the birthplace of proportional representation passed Tuesday, more than a year after Justin Trudeau struck the option from potential national reforms.

P.E.I. legislators approved the Electoral System Referendum Act on Tuesday evening, laying out what Attorney General Jordan Brown describes as a “fair choice” that will “determine the electoral future of the province.”

The question in the bill — “Should Prince Edward Island change its voting system to a mixed member proportional voting system?” — may also boost the system’s national exposure, alongside British Columbia’s preparations for a mail-in referendum on the issue this fall.

The Island vote poses a simple “Yes” or “No” option, with political scientists predicting a tight battle over the outcome.

Proponents are arguing P.E.I. is fertile ground for an early win for the system, depending on when a provincial election is held.

One key argument is small jurisdictions like P.E.I. — where one of two parties often holds a lop-sided majority — don’t have sufficient checks on the government.

“I think our electoral system is an 18th century system and we need to bring it into the 21st century,” says Leo Cheverie, an advocate for a “Yes” vote.

However, opposition groups are now starting to form with sharply differing views.

Opponents like Dr. Gary Morgan, a veterinarian in Mill River, P.E.I., says he fears his province will become a “battlefield and bellwether for people who want this electoral reform for regions in Canada.”

“It’s a threat to rural voice in Prince Edward Island … in western P.E.I., we have five members representing us in the legislature and that would be down to two.”

A “No” vote would mean the continuation of 27 legislature seats chosen by the first-past-the-post method, while a “Yes” creates a system of voters choosing 18 legislators in redrawn electoral districts and also casting province-wide ballots for nine others from lists parties create.

The “list” seats would be assigned proportionately based on the popular vote each party received on the second part of the ballots.

Under the terms of the referendum bill voted on Tuesday, members of the legislature must still briefly reconvene to approve a referendum commissioner. The bill says a victory for the “Yes” side will require a majority of votes cast in the referendum ballot in at least 60 per cent of the electoral districts.

Mixed member proportional representation won a majority of the votes in a 2016 plebiscite on the Island, but Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan set the results aside due to a low turnout, promising he’d offer another referendum in the next general election.

Political scientist Don Desserud says it’s too early to predict an outcome in Round 2.

“The polling numbers are pretty evenly split … so it’s going to be interesting to see in an actual election how that plays out,” said the University of Prince Edward Island professor.

Cheverie is already working behind the scenes, and predicts much of the campaign will occur through one-on-one chats among Islanders.

The P.E.I. Proportional Representation Network website is using grassroots organizing methods, inviting participants to “share ideas,” and “if other citizens think it’s a good idea, they will join you and make it happen,” through online chat groups.

“We’re in a new phase where we’re trying to have more people from bottom up taking action,” he said.

Marcia Carroll, director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, says she’s returning to the campaign in hopes of bringing people with disabilities into politics.

“This has stirred something political in me deeper than I realized I had,” said Carroll. “We’re ready to go again … that’s the way we work. We don’t give up.”

However, Desserud says the “No” side has the quiet support of the majority Liberal and Conservative politicians on the Island, and the emergence of Morgan’s group is a sign the opposing forces are marshalling.

Morgan, a former Progressive Conservative candidate in the 1990s in western P.E.I., says he expects to form alliances with urban voters who object to voting for a candidate not actually based in their riding.

“I don’t see the connection between the at-large member of the legislature and democracy,” he said.

Desserud also says that the campaign structure created by the Liberals in the referendum bill has helped level the playing field, by restricting off-Island donations, keeping individual donations to $1,000, and setting up public funding for both sides to draw on for advertising.

“I’m watching this with fascination to see what they (the Liberals) are doing … Are they just very, very confident that when the ‘No’ supporters get organized by a regular election campaign that this will kill it?” says the professor.

Brown says the referendum bill — and the governing Liberals — are unbiased.

“I have looked at all the different systems. They all have their pros and cons. Whatever Islanders want I’m more than fine with,” he said.

Restrictions on outside donations and the role of provincial politicians are quite reasonable, he adds.

“A fulsome debate should be enabled through a system that both promotes the sharing of ideas and education … and regulates that same process so that no wealthy or outside individual can disproportionately sway the will of the voters,” he said.

James Aylward, the leader of the Tory opposition, said in an interview he is also staying neutral in the vote.

“I’m not going to state my preference one way or the other,” he said. “I don’t think it should be the responsibility of elected members of the legislature to push their will on the electorate.”

Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party, said he voted against the referendum bill based on its lack of public consultation, but added, “it’s been improved immensely from its original draft.”

Bevan-Baker said he suspects the government’s willingness to sit through a long session to pass the bill is a sign they’re holding open the option of a fall election, with the referendum on the ballot.

“Perhaps we will be making a little bit of history,” he says.

Trudeau had promised to abolish the first-past-the-post federal voting system during the 2015 election, but later abandoned the plan. The prime minister argued that consultations across the country revealed that Canadians were not clamouring for change.

In B.C., a campaign asking voters whether they want to switch to proportional representation or keep the first-past-the-post system will start on July 1, with voting by mail-in ballot running from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30.

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax

The Canadian Press




If you like this, share it!

National

Woman and her dog lost for 72 hours in B.C. woods are found safe

Published

on

If you like this, share it!

INVERMERE, B.C. — A 52-year-old woman and her dog are both safe and unharmed after wandering lost for 72 hours in the thick woods in southeastern B.C.

RCMP Sgt. Chris Newel says Louise Baxter hopped off a rescue helicopter Wednesday, hugged her husband and was talking and laughing with her rescuers.

Baxter went out for a hike with friends in the Jumbo Pass area on Sunday, but she disappeared after taking her leashed dog out for what she said would be a short walk.

Newel says Baxter appears to have become disoriented shortly after leaving her friends and then heading down the mountain, moving “west when she probably should have been heading east.”

The dog, a golden poodle named Maverick, was with her the whole time and Newel says the animal is also in good health. 

At the height of the search, there were three helicopters, four search dogs, a drone and 35 search and rescue volunteers looking for the woman in the difficult, mountainous terrain.

Newel, who was the incident commander for the search, said Baxter saw the search helicopters and tried to flag them down, but no one saw her.

“But if anybody’s every been in a helicopter, trying spot a person in forested area is extremely difficult and a lot harder than you would think,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “I can’t imagine the emotion that would have gone through her seeing these helicopters and not be able to signal them in some sort of way.”

Baxter is an avid hiker, Newel said, adding the general rule of thumb for those who get lost in the woods is to stay put. Baxter did stay in one place for a while but proceeded down the mountain because she thought help wasn’t coming, he said.

“But she was working further and further out from the primary search area.”

He said she found water along the way and ate berries, but didn’t have anything else to eat.

“I couldn’t believe when she walked off that helicopter and practically ran to her husband,” Newel added.

 

The Canadian Press


If you like this, share it!
Continue Reading

National

Greens won’t run candidate in Burnaby South as ‘leader’s courtesy’ to Singh: May

Published

on

If you like this, share it!

VICTORIA — The Green party will not run a candidate against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in the riding of Burnaby South.

Green Leader Elizabeth May says the decision is an extension of a “leader’s courtesy,” a long-standing Canadian parliamentary tradition that facilitates a newly elected party leader’s entry to the House of Commons in an unopposed byelection.

She says in a statement the Greens believe it is right to step aside to allow the leader of “an important part of the political spectrum” to serve in Parliament.

Singh announced his candidacy for the federal riding after New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart indicated he was stepping aside to run for mayor of Vancouver.

The Liberal and Conservative parties have not announced candidates in the riding, but the Liberals have said they will contest the byelection.

May received the leader’s courtesy in 2008 when then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion chose not to run a candidate against her in Central Nova. She extended the same gesture to Dion.

In 2002, the Liberals and Conservatives stepped aside for Stephen Harper when he ran in a byelection held shortly after he became leader of the Canadian Alliance.

No date has been set for a byelection.

Singh sat in Ontario’s legislature and served as the provincial NDP’s deputy leader before he replaced Tom Mulcair as the federal leader.

The Canadian Press


If you like this, share it!
Continue Reading

Community Events

august, 2018

wed30may - 26sepmay 303:30 pmsep 26ATB Financial Downtown Market(may 30) 3:30 pm - (september 26) 6:30 pm

mon25jun - 3sepAll DayRip ‘N Rec Summer Pass returns for youth in Red Deer(All Day)

sun12aug - 19aug 128:00 amaug 19Central Alberta Pride Week8:00 am - 11:00 pm (19)

thu16aug - 26All DayEdmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival(All Day)

fri17aug - 27All DayEdmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival(All Day)

fri17aug7:00 pm- 9:00 pmFree Family Movie Night featuring Sherlock Gnomes!7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

sat18augAll Daywesterner Park Urban Farm - Long Table Dinner(All Day: saturday)

sat18aug11:00 am- 3:00 pmDiscover Pride - A family event!11:00 am - 3:00 pm

sat18aug - 19aug 1812:00 pmaug 19Golf Central Alberta Invitational Golf Tournament12:00 pm - 12:00 am (19)

sat18aug - 19aug 187:00 pmaug 19Drag Show & DanceThe grand finale of Central Alberta Pride Week!7:00 pm - 1:00 am (19)

Red Deer
20°
smoke
humidity: 52%
wind: 6m/s SSE
H 26 • L 23
25°
Fri
24°
Sat
17°
Sun
20°
Mon
Weather from OpenWeatherMap

Trending

X