Home Page News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising FAQ
Log In

All-party consensus still lacking as House Electoral Reform Committee enters final stretch

By Tim Naumetz      

The NDP is now backing Conservative MPs in support of a national referendum on reforming the voting system.

'All I can say is I’m still hoping we have a consensus report, but it’s clearly harder slogging than I thought it would be,' says Green Party Leader and House Electoral Reform Committee member Elizabeth May. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

PARLIAMENT HILL —A special House of Commons committee that spent nearly four months gathering expert testimony and public views across the country on reforms to Canada’s electoral system is running out of time to hammer out a final report with support from all parties in the House of  Commons.

The NDP is now backing Conservative MPs on the committee in support of a national referendum on reforming the voting system, a scheduled meeting Thursday was cancelled, and committee members are indicating a final report will be hammered out next week, despite signs that not all parties are on the same page.

“All I can say is I’m still hoping we have a consensus report, but it’s clearly harder slogging than I thought it would be,” Green Party Leader and committee member Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) told The Hill Times Thursday after the committee had held a closed-door meeting the previous night.

“It’s tricky,” she said. “To get to consensus requires a deep degree of mutual trust and commitment to co-existence, and that means I’m being very quiet about whatever we’re discussing.”

Ms. May and NDP MPs declined to disclose what went on late Wednesday during the in-camera committee meeting, but there were Question Period clashes Thursday between New Democrats and Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef (Peterborough-Kawartha, Ont.) over online surveys the government secretly retained to sound out Canadians on a new voting system.

NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont-La Petite Patrie, Que.), who’s also on the committee, told The Hill Times Thursday, without disclosing details of the Wednesday committee proceedings, that a decision on a report to the Commons will be taken next week, with only two weeks remaining before the report is due to be tabled in the House on Dec. 1.

“Let’s just say that everybody will bring their recommendations and next week we’ll decide,” said Mr. Boulerice.

As Mr. Boulerice and NDP MP and House Electoral Reform Committee vice-chair Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley, B.C.) pressed Ms. Monsef over a report quoting from the private survey on elector views the government contracted last September, without informing the committee. Ms. Monsef confirmed the government survey while ducking questions about widespread support from committee witnesses and the public for proportional representation.

“I want to thank the Member opposite for his commitment on this file, and I want to thank him for bringing up something that we’ve been working on for months,” she said in reference to Mr. Cullen.

“We want to find as many ways as possible to hear from as many Canadians as possible on the topic of electoral reform. We want to hear about the values that matter most to them.”

“To that end, Mr. Speaker, we are working with Vox Pop labs on a new initiative, and as the Member opposite understands full well, standard procedures require testing and re-testing. We will have more information on this initiative in the coming weeks,” said Ms. Monsef.

As the government began setting up its own survey, which includes mail-outs to a reported 13 million electors for views on reform, the special committee held a total of 39 meetings in all the provinces and territories, gathered a total of 571 written briefs, and heard 731 witnesses, including 427 witnesses who spoke at open-mic sessions.

Sponsored Content

Supporting a Digital Public Sector

By Schneider Electric’s Secure Power Division - Canada

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Dip in RCMP watchdog’s budget shakes faith in its ability to exercise oversight, says NDP MP Harris

News|By Beatrice Paez
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the legislation it introduced in January, which died on the Order Paper in the summer, came with a budgetary increase that would help the civilian body hold the RCMP to account.

Tick tock: Liberals call for swift implementation of new Canada-U.K. trade pact as legislative process remains murky

News|By Neil Moss
There are 13 sitting days left before the House rises on Dec. 11. Liberals say the text of the new Canada-U.K. transitional deal may not be available for another two to four weeks.

NDP’s spring convention offers chance to pit party’s vision against governing Liberals’, say members

News|By Beatrice Paez
For New Democrats, conventions often generate 'vigorous and energetic' debate on 'emerging policy' issues among the party faithful, says former NDP MP Libby Davies. 

Veteran MP Kent won’t seek re-election, becoming third CPC MP to bow out of next race

Feature|By Neil Moss
Plus, things got heated in a recent Health Committee exchange, and Independent Senator Murray Sinclair is releasing a new book in 2022.

End of five-year lobby ban comes with confusion for some Harper-era staffers

Recent confusion centred on whether the ban ends five years after the first Trudeau cabinet was sworn in, or five years after former staffers received their last paycheque from the government.

Economic, industry concerns top-lobbied issues amid return to Parliament and second COVID wave

Economic development, industry, health, and the environment were among the top-cited subjects in October’s 2,611 filings in the federal lobbying registry.

When it comes to dissenting female MPs and dissenting white male MPs, Trudeau’s got a double standard, says former Grit MP Caesar-Chavannes

News|By Abbas Rana
One-term former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes talks to The Hill Times about her life in federal politics and about her upcoming book, Can You Hear Me Now?, and she says she's not ruling out a return to the Hill.

As provinces enlist military’s support in managing COVID-19, experts say it’s pulling the Forces away from training efforts

News|By Palak Mangat
Christian Leuprecht, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, says just because the forces are 'capable,' the CAF is not and should not be viewed as the 'optimal provider of emergency assistance.'

Feds’ climate bill a ‘significant achievement’—and it’s full of holes: experts

‘The biggest risk is that we’re going to backload the policies and the efforts that we’re going to need,’ says Michael Bernstein.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.