The PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation (PR) is pleased that the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal has included two options for proportional representation among the options on a recommended plebiscite question. The Coalition supports both PR models put forward by the Special Committee.
“The Special Committee heard from many Islanders about electoral systems that could work well for PEI,” says Coalition member Jane Ledwell, of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women. “The Committee members were wise to recommend that Islanders have a chance to learn about and show their support for both a dual-member proportional model and a mixed-member proportional model in a plebiscite.”
“Our Coalition is looking forward to sharing the message with Islanders that two options on the ballot would increase the proportionality in our voting system and are more fair, while three options, including the current system, are not,” says Brenda Oslawsky of Fair Vote PEI. “Proportional representation increases the diversity of representation in government and more closely represents the public will.”
Oslawsky notes, “The strength of the Special Committee’s report and the multiple options the Committee put forward is that it represents the conclusions of a multi-partisan committee that heard from many Islanders of many political stripes.”
As MLAs prepare to discuss and debate the Special Committee’s report in the Legislature, the Coalition for PR strongly urges MLAs to approve a plebiscite question that includes both dual-member proportional and mixed-member proportional models and warns that an attempt to remove one of the two proportional options on the ballot would compromise the multi-partisan balance struck by the Special Committee.
Anna Keenan, coordinator of the PR Action Team says, “The Coalition for PR supports both PR models put forward by the Special Committee – but even more importantly, we strongly support both these options being put in front of voters so voters can express their preferences.”
Keenan continues, “Islanders are intelligent and informed citizens. As a province, we love to participate in democratic decision-making, and we’re confident that when Islanders have a chance to compare electoral systems, they will embrace the chance to lead the way in Canada and introduce proportional representation in PEI.”
Beyond the plebiscite question, the Coalition for Proportional Representation looks forward to answers to many questions about the plebiscite process. As the Special Committee’s report reflects, Islanders place a very high priority on public education about the electoral options, and both plans and equitable resources for this public education will be crucial to a fair plebiscite result.
The Special Committee was mandated to propose a plebiscite question, but details about the regulatory framework for the plebiscite remain, from what rules will apply to the funding of third-party groups involved in the campaign and clarity about how plebiscite outcomes will be measured and interpreted.
The Prince Edward Island Coalition for Proportional Representation is a network of a dozen community-based organizations and more than 120 individuals promoting proportional representation.