Over the past few days I have heard from many of you who are disappointed in our government’s decision to not proceed with changing the voting system. I know that, for many of you, this was an issue of great importance as well as a high priority.
As we went through this process, I heard a variety of different opinions from many Edmontonians. In meetings, emails, letters, and at town halls and community events hosted by my office you reached out and shared a full range of thoughtful and interesting ideas about our democracy and how we elect MPs. Many individuals supported directed proportional representation, while others wanted to ensure local representation and advocated for ranked ballots. Many organizations and individuals argued for larger multiple member ridings that would reflect voting percentages, while others were clear that they could not accept any changes to our electoral system without first holding a referendum. In the end there were many great ideas but no consensus on the process or the nature of changes to our voting system.
Our experience here in Edmonton Centre was shared by many of my colleagues throughout the country. My caucus colleagues heard a wide variety of opinions, making a single proposal in parliament difficult to achieve. In the House of Commons, the NDP and the Green party supported proportional representation, while the Conservatives and the Bloc Québecois insisted they would not agree to any changes without a referendum being held first. Given the time left in our mandate, a referendum would not be feasible, nor do I believe it would be in the national interest to hold one. Absent a clear consensus on a new voting system, the government is not moving forward with this process.
Our focus will turn to other important priorities. These include much needed infrastructure spending to grow our economy, making historic investments in First Nations’ education, and moving forward with economically and environmentally sensible approaches to develop our natural resources, to get pipelines built and to combat climate change – all measures that will put people back to work in Alberta. We are taking steps to end homelessness, legalize cannabis, review and renew our criminal justice system, and combat the epidemic of opioid related deaths in our communities. We are also making real progress in improving an immigration system that was in disarray when we took office. Ensuring a stable political environment is also important as we undertake the critical work of facilitating continued international trade with the United States and other trading partners.
As many of you are aware, I have also been given the responsibility of advising the Prime Minister on how our government can best respond to the needs of the LGBTQ2 community, ensure that we remain inclusive and welcoming, and help Canada celebrate and defend all kinds of diversity. The work in this area has already begun and I will continue to rely on the help and support of our community and our allies to make more progress possible.
I know that many among you remain disappointed about this decision and I understand your disappointment. We still have much to do in the next two and a half years to improve our democratic process.
We will improve the work of Parliamentary Committees operate, reform the appointment process for federal agency boards and commissions, and repeal undemocratic elements of the previous government’s Fair Elections Act. We will also address other concerns that are important to you, including increasing transparency in political fundraising and protecting our democratic institutions from cyberattack.
As ever, I remain committed to serving you, the people of Edmonton Centre to the best of my abilities, to listening to your thoughts and concerns and to bringing your voices to Ottawa.