Around forty people attended the two-hour Town Hall organized/hosted by NWT MP Michael McLeod at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre on Tuesday evening. A diverse mixture of Northerners from young to old, indigenous activists, first generation Canadians, former politicians and electoral candidates whose thoughts and feelings around election reform in Canada spanned across the electoral reform spectrum: from wanting change, to needing more info on the options, to maintaining the status quo, together with concerns around online and mandatory voting.
The Yellowknife session was the second Town Hall in a cross-country journey to hear Canadians thoughts on electoral reform. In the opening part of the meeting the attendees were asked to shout-out what was important to them:
More Nothern MPs Enviroment
Balanced Economy Infrastructure
NWT MP Michael MCleod opened the Town Hall by reiterating the promises made to Canadians during the last election, one of which was the promise to make the 2015 Federal Election the last First Past the Post election by reviewing the electoral system in Canada. He informed the crowd that Canadians can make a submission to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform before Dec 1, 2016 at which time the Committee must present its findings to the House of Commons. Northerners will also have the opportunity to attend a public hearing/session on Sept 30, 2016 in Yellowknife.
Minister of Democratic Institutions, the Honourable Maryam Monsef was also in attendance as a guest, however, in her official capacity she oversees the Parliamentary Committee created to “identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems to replace the first-past-the-post system, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting…”.
Min. Monsef started by remarking on her journey that 20 years ago brought her to Canada, and that it is incredible that an immigrant to Canada can take part in the democratic process not just by voting but by running for office.
The electoral reform discussion is a once in a generation chance to strengthen our democratic institutions by enhancing Canada’s electoral system for better representation and making it stronger for future generations.
An overview of the various ideas surrounding electoral reform that were mentioned and general comments:
- Lower the voting age to 16
- Online Voting
- More Public Engagement
- Electoral Fairness
- Education: Civics Course in schools
- Mandatory Voting
- Write-in option on ballot
- Education about different systems
- Internet accessibility/reliability
- Education/Engagement during non-election time
- Making a connection between “Democracy, voting, and everyday life”
A copy of the slideshow notes:Aug 30, 2016 Eletoral reform Town Hall - Slideshow Notes