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Kingston councillor calls for electoral reform after withdrawing as a provincial candidate

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WATCH: Councillor Ryan Boehme says current system is broken. – Oct 6, 2021

You could say Kingston city councillor Ryan Boehme is a little disillusioned with the workings of party politics.

“Here’s the will of the party, here’s the will of the people, and you’re expected to do the will of the party,” said Boehme, gesturing with his hands that the party ranks higher.

“The problem is, if the will of the people always comes second we can call it what it is, it’s a broken system.”

Boehme is in his second term as a councillor representing Pittsburgh District.

Earlier this year he decided to make the jump to provincial politics, but the experience wasn’t what he thought it would be.

“Orders come out from a centralized office. If it’s provincial its the premier’s office; if it’s federal it’s the prime minister’s office, and there’s decisions that are being made in the background and any MPPs or MPs that say, ‘Wow, I don’t agree with you,’ what typically happens? They’re silenced or they’re punished or they’re coerced into toeing that party line,” Boehme said.

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Boehme has stepped down as the Progressive Conservative candidate in Kingston and the Islands and says the results of the federal election show the need for electoral reform.

“Sixty-two per cent of people voted and of that 62 per cent, 32 per cent of people voted for the party that’s currently forming the minority government. If you break that down one more step that means one in five people actually support the minority government that we have right now,” said Boehme.

Prof. Jonathan Rose, head of the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University, points out governments aren’t likely to change a system that is benefitting. However, Rose does see one option for potential electoral reform, and that is a minority government.

“The government must rely on the support of other parties, so those two other parties — the Conservatives and the New Democrats, for example — could say they will only support the government if they promise an electoral reform package,” said Rose.

“So it’s possible and that’s often how these changes occur.”

Read more: Jason Baker resigns his position as Brockville mayor

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Gisela Ruckert with the group Fair Vote Canada says they have been working to get proportional representation adopted instead of the current first past the post system.

“We are becoming more diverse in our political views and we need to update our system to one that actually creates space for those different views and facilitates a more collaborative and cooperative approach,” said Ruckert.

Fair Vote Canada is urging Canadian residents to pressure federal political leaders to call for a national citizens assembly on electoral reform.

 

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