November 27, 2016 12:01 pm
Updated: November 27, 2016 12:13 pm

Maryam Monsef won’t guarantee a new electoral system by 2019

Maryam Monsef tells Tom Clark the progression of electoral reform is in the hands of the parliamentary committee studying the issue.


Canada may not have a new system for electing governments by 2019, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise voters would never again use the current system.

Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef on Sunday refused to guarantee her work so far on the file is leading to reform that will be in place by the next general election.

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That work has included striking a committee to study potential alternatives to the current first-past-the-post system that the Liberals promised to replace before the next election. The committee’s report is due this week.

READ MORE: Ranked ballots in Canada? Liberals not necessarily advantaged by switch to voting system

“How do we gauge whether or not this reform has the broad support?” she asked in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark.

“We’re counting on that committee to come back to us and, if all goes well, we get to introduce legislation to that effect in the House of Commons in the spring,” Monsef said.

Late last week, the Liberals tabled a bill to undo some of the controversial reforms the previous Conservative government made to the country’s voting system, moving to loosen up restrictions.

READ MORE: Trudeau clarifies stance on electoral reform after taking heat from critics

Monsef’s bill, if passed, would make it easier for voters to cast a ballot. The legislation would restore using a voter ID card to be considered eligible, and also allow other voters to vouch for a person’s identity.

Elections Canada will also be able to educate voters on the electoral system and encourage people to vote.

Monsef moved beyond simply reversing the Conservative measures, however, including provisions allowing Canadians living abroad far more leeway to be able to vote.

The minister skirted the question when asked why Canadians living abroad, who don’t pay taxes in the country, should have a say in how the country is run.

READ MORE: Changing Canada’s electoral system: What are the options?

“Canadians who are sharing Canadian values abroad, who are there because they want to see the world … who are sharing their talent with the rest of the world, they don’t know when they’re going to come back, but they have a close connection to home,” Monsef said. “You can’t tell me that your being Canadian, one day you wake up and it’s done … they want to be part of this process. We’re extending that right.”

The minister’s package of election reforms reflects promises made during the last election campaign, but does not fulfill all of the Liberals’ commitments on the mechanics of elections. They have said they would limit how much parties spend between elections, review spending limits for the campaigns themselves and figure out a better way to organize leaders’ debates.

And, of course, any full-fledged replacement of the first-past-the-post electoral system is in the air.

© 2016 Global News and the Canadian Press

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