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By Michael Christianson
It’s time to change how we vote.
Kenora MP Bob Nault was in Dryden last Wednesday hosting a town hall meeting on election reform. The event was held at the Best Western with around 40 people in attendance on the weeknight.
A clear majority in attendance thought that the current first past the post system did not do enough to accurately represent the will of the people.
Mike Quince travelled from Sioux Lookout to make sure his voice was heard.
“I’m tired of seeing elected governments with 38% that report that they represent the majority of the country and we need some pretty serious review of first past the post and we need to get it right,” said Quince. “We need to look at it and look at the options and get something that can be effective and encourages people to participate and get out there and vote.”
Quince was appreciative for Nault and the government setting up this meeting but he, as well as other in attendance, felt future meetings could be done in an online fashion so that more members of the constituency could take part.
Although many were looking for reform to the system it seemed that everyone in attendance had a differing opinion of what the new system could look like.
Options put forward at the meeting were Alternative Vote, List Proportional Representation, Single Transferable Vote and Mixed Member Proportional.
The biggest supporters of the old system in the room seemed to be Bob Nault and Roger Valley. Valley commented that the will to change the system has come more from politicians than from the people, which most people in attendance seemed to disagree with.
Perhaps the clearest consensus from the room was the disdain for a referendum on the issue; many pointed to Brexit as an example of how people can regret voting for something they don’t entirely understand.
The meeting also asked the question of how to encourage better participation in future elections.
“I thought tonight was classic northern; people were very engaged, very knowledgeable, very polite, they had an opinion and didn’t have any problem listening to other people’s opinions,” said Nault. “I thought that was very helpful for me because if the government sticks to it’s position of no referendum, which so far that’s been the case, then that means that Bob Nault the representative is going to make a decision on this on behalf of the riding of Kenora, so I really do need to consult and get a feel for it and understand it better and get myself prepared for making the ultimate decision when it comes.”
Meetings such as this were held across the country and now the findings will be submitted to the committee on electoral reforms who will report their findings to parliament.