Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to study electoral reform, but comments on the topic this week raised questions about whether he has already ruled out one version of it. Trudeau told the Canadian Press on Wednesday that he doesn’t like the idea of “disconnecting any MPs from specific groups of citizens or geographic location.” “The fact that every single politician needs to earn the trust of a specific group of constituents who cover the broad range of Canadian public opinion strengthens our democracy,” Trudeau said in a long interview with CP’s Ottawa bureau.
Some voters dislike Canada’s first-past-the-post system because they feel it distorts the result. The Liberals, for example, won 54.4 per cent of seats in the House with 39.5 per cent of the vote, just as, in 2011, the Conservatives won 53.9 per cent of seats with 39.6 per cent of the vote.
Trudeau promised the 2015 federal election would be the last one run under first-past-the-post, and pledged to consult broadly about how to change it.
But his comments to CP sparked a debate over whether he was ruling out proportional representation, or a specific version of it called mixed-member proportional representation. Under that method of electoral reform, voters cast ballots for local candidates using the first-past-the-post system Canadians are used to, with a second ballot that lets them choose their preferred party. Some seats in Parliament are then allocated based on that second ballot vote. But critics of that option argue it can leave voters with less power if it’s the party that slots its preferred candidates into those seats.