South Okanagan-West Kootenay is one of 21 ridings across Canada in the spotlight of a Fair Vote Canada online ad campaign encouraging voters to elect MPs who support electoral reform in their platforms.
In a Sept. 23 press release, Fair Vote Canada says Liberal leader Justin Trudeau campaigned on electoral reform in 2015, but admitted he “never intended considering proportional representation” once elected.
The grassroots non-profit organization goes on to say candidates in the 21 targeted ridings have been carefully selected to not split the vote and accidentally elect a Conservative.
“We’ll be helping an (candidate) who champions PR win or keep the seat,” it says.
Green Party candidate Tara Howse said her party supports proportional representation because it is the best system to distribute power across the country, as well as represent the diverse views of Canadians.
“A proportional representation system allows people to vote where they want to vote and put their support behind candidates who really matter to them,” Howse said, adding democratic countries around the world, such as Denmark, Finland and New Zealand have proportional representation and it works.
“They are being run and do get things accomplished. I think the idea that things won’t get accomplished is rhetoric, it’s not based on anything.
“In Canada, we want to be a multi-party system to bring across diverse sets of views because we are a country with a diverse set of people and we are not just a two-party system. We’re supposed to represent the public and that is what proportional representation would bring.”
Conservative candidate Helena Konanz said Trudeau broke his campaign promise to Canadians that would have made 2015 the last Canadian federal election under the “first-past-the-post” system.
“This is one of many files that the Trudeau Liberals mishandled from day one,” said Konanz in an email to the Western News. “Conservatives believe that when you change the rules of democracy, everyone gets to have a say. Our position remains that any change to the way we elect Members of Parliament must only be decided in a referendum.”
Konanz also accused Trudeau of using the power of his office to reward his supporters and punish his critics. Instead of helping the middle-class as promised, she said as prime minister he raised taxes on 80 per cent of middle-class Canadians and brought in a carbon tax that makes everyday essentials more expensive.
Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk said in 2018, B.C. led by the NDP, with support of the B.C. Green Party, held a $15-million referendum on proportional representation.
“A super-majority of voters in B.C. — and the South Okanagan-West Kootenay — declined proportional representation,” she said. “There are greater issues at stake in this election.”
According to a September 2019 Angus Reid poll, conducted in partnership with Fair Vote Canada, 70 per cent of Canadians believe Trudeau made the wrong decision on electoral reform. A total of 82 per cent of people polled said majority governments should have more than 50 per cent of votes and 72 per cent support a switch to proportional representation.
Trudeau said the Liberal government dropped electoral reform because there was not consensus among Canadians about how to move forward .
Penticton Western News reached out to NDP candidate Richard Cannings but he did not respond before press time.
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