CHARLOTTETOWN – The PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation responds to the Interim Report tabled by the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, in Legislature today after almost a month of consultations with the public. The Coalition is pleased that the committee listened to requests for more time and more education. Many of the groups and individuals who submitted to the Committee expressed their concerns that November was too soon to have a draft plebiscite question ready. The committee and the legislature are obviously taking democratic renewal as seriously as it ought to be taken by opting to defer the drafting of the plebiscite question to April 2016 and delaying the plebiscite until November 2016.
We hope that continued engagement with the public on this issue will result in a clearly defined plebiscite question that will allow Islanders to clearly indicate whether they want proportional representation or not. Also, to engage voters adequately will demand adequate time and resources devoted to public outreach and education.
It is hoped that with the additional time for education prior to the plebiscite and adequate resources for the implementation of voting will result in a higher awareness, interest and voter turnout than previously. Further that exploring alternative ways to vote and enfranchising youth are very good ideas that deserve more detailed examination. We agree with the Premier that the challenge will be to engage Islanders, and the Coalition is up for the challenge.
As it is now, the process for the upcoming steps still seems to rest with a Committee of elected MLAs, elected through FPTP and with vested interests in the electoral system as it is. The Committee would have liked to have seen an independent mechanism such as a Citizens’ Assembly and we will still press for such a process.
There seems to be a lot of support for PEI leading Canada on democratic renewal, and that’s a great thing. The Coalition for Proportional Representation wants us to be the first province to adopt PR and will be working hard to help Islanders learn about the benefits of a fairer voting system.
The Prince Edward Island Coalition for Proportional Representation is a newly-formed network of community-based organizations and individuals promoting proportional representation. Currently, it consists of approximately 60 individuals, plus the following organizations: Citizens Alliance of P.E.I; Cooper Institute; Council of Canadians; Canadian Union of Public Employees (P.E.I Division); Fair Vote P.E.I.; Green Party of P.E.I.; New Democratic Party of P.E.I.; P.E.I Advisory Council on the Status of Women; P.E.I Coalition for Women in Government and P.E.I Council of People with Disabilities.