The Liberals have backed down from their plan to hold the reins on a committee to study electoral reform in Canada, handing over the balance of power to the opposition and agreeing to give the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party a voice at the table. It is a major reversal from the government, which pledged to change the first-past-the-post voting system before the next federal election, but faced increasing criticism that it was trying to rig the system in the Liberal Party’s favour. Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef told the House of Commons on Thursday the government will support an NDP motion to give opposition members more say on the special committee – yet to be struck – to study voting systems and propose changes for Canada.
“Hopefully, this will assure members that the government comes to this process with an open mind,” Ms. Monsef told the Commons. “The purpose of coming together with the parties across the aisle today was to demonstrate that co-operation in this place is possible,” she later told reporters.
The motion, to be voted on next Tuesday, proposes the 12-member special committee be made up of five Liberals, three Conservatives, two NDP, one Bloc MP and the Green Party’s Elizabeth May. The original plan was for the Liberals to make up the majority, with the Bloc and Greens represented, but unable to vote.
Mr. Trudeau has in the past said he personally favoured a ranked ballot system, while the NDP and Greens have supported some form of proportional representation. All have said they are open to studying different options, while the Conservatives have pushed for a national referendum on the issue, an idea the Bloc supports.