Category Archives: News & Opinion

Show Your PR Colours!

With less than 3 weeks before the voting begins it’s time to show your colours! Let’s paint this province with a huge Proportional Representation brush by using this bright image for your social media profile photo. (If you don’t use social media, read on!)


On Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Simply save the above image to your device, then go to your profile and upload as your new profile pic. Encourage your friends to download and use the image too!

Not on Facebook? Check out our new video: “Confused About the Vote? Sacia Breaks it Down”, and share this video.

Confused about the Vote?



Electoral Reform: An Accurate View of History (Op-Ed)

VotePR12squareCoalition for PR member Marie Burge submitted this op-ed to the Charlottetown Guardian recently. Thanks, Marie!


From October 29 to November 7, 2016, Islanders will vote in a plebiscite. The results of the plebiscite will suggest how future PEI governments should be elected. It is a welcome sign that the government is paying for education for us to be well-informed voters. This task was given to Elections PEI. The education seems to be going well.

However, good community education requires an accurate view of PEI history. One important moment in our history was the 2005 plebiscite. It was upsetting to hear the Elections PEI communications director say, “The last time there was a plebiscite (in 2005) there was no real public education…” This comment diminishes the competence and work of a lot of people.

First of all is Premier Pat Binns who had the courage to initiate an electoral reform process in 2003 by mandating retired Chief Justice Norman Carruthers as the one-person commission. In one year Justice Carruthers did a massive research, drawing on knowledge of experts, local, national and international (114 submissions and interviews). He studied experiences of other jurisdictions and concluded that P.E.I. would benefit from a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system. Premier Binns accepted this recommendation. In December 2004 the government named an eight-person commission to develop and conduct a public education program on First Past the Post and Mixed Member Proportional electoral systems and to design a plebiscite question. That was the Commission on Prince Edward Island’s Electoral Future, with Leonard Russell, a well-known educator, as chair. This commission implemented an extensive public education program. Its report was accepted by the PEI legislature.

To assess the statement, “(in 2005) there was no real public education”, here are some facts about 2005. The government provided its commission with a significant budget, $148,200. The Commission had regular media releases in all Island publications in French and English. There were kick-off media conferences in May 2005. In June, there was a symposium with national and local experts. A communication firm was hired in July. A television commercial was created and broadcast. An information pamphlet was delivered to most Island households and at events in many communities. The Commission created a website and had a 1-800 line. Twelve public meetings were held and the audio recordings of them were added to the website. There were print and radio messages.

The above refers only to the publicly-funded education program. As well, in 2005, a parallel, non-governmental group was active. The YES on MMP coalition of diverse community groups and individuals formed in early October and carried out the YES Campaign. This coalition raised $35,000 private dollars and hired a co-ordinator, designed “Vote YES” signs and buttons, and 3,000 clear language mail-outs. The coalition did some door-to-door campaigning and organized a number of forums/debates, featuring the Yes and No sides.

The misrepresentation of education efforts in 2005 is important because it tends to cover-up the fact that the PC government changed its tune, came to favour a “No” vote, and undermined the plebiscite process at the eleventh hour by requiring a 60 per cent vote and by having few voting stations opened. They and the Liberal party used backroom tactics to warn voters of “the dangers of MMP,” and that it was too difficult for us to understand.

Now because it’s 2016, we expect government and opposition to take the high road. No more 2005 shenanigans. It seems clear that many Islanders are ready and able for change. We can all help by making sure that all eligible Islanders know the issues and that they vote intelligently in the plebiscite.

– Marie Burge of Mermaid was a member of the YES ON MMP coalition in 2005 and is an active member of the 2016 PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation.

Op-Ed: Vote 1 & 2 for PR!

Vote 1&2 for PR HeaderRecently, Elections PEI launched a website and education campaign to let people know more about their options for electoral reform in the upcoming provincial plebiscite. Their website,, provides information about each of five electoral options and asks Islanders, “Is it time for a change?”

The PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation answers that question with a big YES. We think it is time for a change, and that the best change would be proportional representation.

Proportional Representation (PR) is an electoral system where every vote counts because the distribution of seats in the Legislature matches the popular vote. If 40% of Islanders vote for the Dog Party, the Dog Party receives 40% of the seats. PR eliminates the unfair advantage the current system (First-Past-the-Post) gives to winners and the unfair disadvantage it gives to all others. This unfair advantage is what confers majority governments and 100% of the power on parties that earn less than the majority of votes.

The current voting is rigged in favour of the parties that have always governed. Both the Liberals and the PCs have benefitted from disproportionate rewards and suffered disproportionate defeats in the past. The flip-flops from one extreme to the other that we have seen in the past are very unstable.

Part of the problem is that the current system renders a large proportion of voters’ votes ineffective – that is, their votes don’t elect anyone. Only votes for the winner in each district count in making up the legislature. Under proportional representation systems, every vote counts. Every vote is effective. Every vote helps decide the composition of the legislature that is meant to represent the will of the voters.

On the plebiscite ballot, there will be five choices for voters to rank from their most preferred to their least preferred. (One of the five choices is the current first-past-the-post system.) There will two proportional representation options on the ballot. We are urging people to “Vote 1 & 2 for PR”! That means we want voters to look for the word “PROPORTIONAL” on their ballot and make the proportional representation options their #1 and #2 choices.

The two proportional options voters will find on the ballot are called Dual-Member Proportional (DMP) and Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP). Both are proportional systems, which means the distribution of seats matches the distribution of the popular vote. MMP is a mixed system, used in countries such as Scotland, Germany, and New Zealand. You get two votes to elect a local candidate and a province-wide party. DMP is a new system, not used elsewhere. You vote once and get two local representatives. Find out more at our website,

The plebiscite on democratic renewal is our chance as Islanders to give direct advice to government from the people (the voters) about how we vote in provincial elections and how to make that vote count.

No matter who you vote for, an electoral system based on proportional representation benefits everyone by delivering fair results: it’s fair and square — the party with the most votes gets the most seats.

Submitted by Florence Larkin, member of the Coalition for Proportional Representation

Published in The Charlottetown Guardian today:

Elections PEI – New Videos

Elections PEI has posted new videos about the upcoming plebiscite! Here are three of them:

General information about the vote

About DMP

About MMP

It’s Your Choice! Elections PEI launches education campaign

It’s official! Prince Edward Island’s plebiscite on changing our electoral system will take place this fall, with a mix of online, telephone, and in-person voting over the period from October 29 to November 7, 2016! This is our chance to participate in one vote this fall to make all our future votes more meaningful – to get a Legislature where the seats are proportional to the popular vote. Make your choice voting 1 & 2 for Proportional Representation!

Elections PEI public education team starts Island-wide education today.

Elections PEI public education team starts Island-wide education today.

To review Elections PEI’s resources, visit their website,, or meet their public education team in person. Coalition for PR members from the PEI Coalition for Women in Government and the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women dropped downtown in Charlottetown the Confederation Court Mall today to meet Taya and Justin and to pick up resources.

Is it time for a change, Elections PEI asks? We sure think so. It’s time for elections that put the voters’ interests before the status quo.


PR Action Team Launches New Website!


Exciting news! Coalition member group the PR Action Team‘s new website is up and running today. Visit to pledge your vote for PR and to find out more about upcoming events to promote proportional representation across Prince Edward Island.

PEIPR Supports Two Choices in Democratic Renewal Report

VotePR12squareOpinion-editorial by Brenda Oslawsky and Marie Burge

The Prince Edward Island Coalition for Proportional Representation (PEIPR) is pleased that Islanders are receiving more information about the November, 2016 plebiscite on electoral reform. The legislature’s Special Committee on Democratic Renewal has presented its report regarding the plebiscite question and this will soon be debated in the legislature.

PEIPR, as a network of 13 community organizations and more than 120 individuals, supports two of the five choices listed in the recommended plebiscite question. Both Dual Member Proportional (DMP) and Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) produce election results that, among other things, will see the number of legislative seats reflect the total popular vote received by each political party. We know there is no perfect system but both these models contain many favourable features.

In community forums sponsored by the legislature’s Special Committee, many Islanders pressed for electoral systems that could work for P.E.I. There is a hunger for change. However, because many people are not yet engaged in this issue, more work is needed to promote greater interest in the plebiscite.

Using the votes from the May, 2015, provincial election as an example, both MMP and DMP would provide the following approximate results.

  • Party A = 40.8% = 11 seats;
  • Party B = 37.4% = 10 seats;
  • Party C = 11.0% = 3 seats
  • Party D = 10.8% = 3 seats

Both proportional systems, MMP and DMP, would prevent lopsided legislatures in which the opposition would consist of only one or two MLAs. They also ensure that every vote counts and every voter counts.

In our view, these two PR options would give P.E.I. a fairer voting system. The other three options – First Past the Post; First Past the Post Plus Leader; and Preferential Voting – would do nothing to ensure that our legislature would reflect the way citizens vote. In that sense, they are not fair.

The PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation supports the work of the PR Action Team, a coalition member focused on developing a public campaign in support of proportional representation. We echo the PR Action Team’s belief that Islanders are intelligent citizens with a great deal of political experience. Informed Islanders committed to the good of their community will make good choices. We believe that they will embrace the chance to lead the way in Canada and introduce proportional representation to P.E.I.

Brenda Oslawsky of Fair Vote PEI and Marie Burge of the Cooper Institute are members of the Prince Edward Island Coalition for Proportional Representation.

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