Canadians want proportional representation when it comes to electoral reform, NDP says

NDP MPs say that the Canadians they’ve heard from on electoral reform support proportional representation, but also want to maintain local representation.

Nathan Cullen, the NDP’s democratic reform critic, presented a report on Wednesday that summarizes the consultations New Democrats have undertaken over the last few months. And the findings, Cullen said, set out “clear benchmarks” that will determine whether NDP MPs can support a new electoral system.  

Cullen, a member of the special House of Commons committee studying electoral reform, also told reporters that he remains hopeful that consensus among committee members can be found in support of a “made-in-Canada” system.

New Democrats say their report is the result of more than 40 town hall meetings, as well as telephone and online surveys and mailouts. Including a petition for proportional representation that received 15,000 signatures, the NDP says it heard from 37,000 Canadians.

According to the NDP, 84.3 per cent of respondents supported the notion that “a party’s seats in Parliament should reflect the percentage of votes they received,” while 81.7 per cent agreed that “having a local representative is important to me.”

Canadians also want parties to work together to choose a new system: 79.1 per cent agree that “working collaboratively and having cross-party support for a new system is vital.”

The NDP has traditionally supported the idea of moving to a mixed-member proportional system for electing MPs, but the submission from the NDP caucus does not endorse any particular model.

Canadians were less enthusiastic about lowering the voting age — 34 per cent supported lowering the age to 16, while 49 per cent were opposed — or implementing mandatory or online voting, the NDP says.

As part of the motion that created the special committee on electoral reform, all MPs were invited to consult with their constituents on the issue and report back to the committee.

The special committee has until December to deliver its recommendations, but Cullen says the testimony it has heard is supportive of proportional representation.