Another Liberal MP responsible for electoral reform won’t absolutely rule out a national referendum to change how Canadians vote. “It’s not something that we’re ruling in or ruling out,” Mark Holland, parliamentary secretary to Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef, told reporters Wednesday. His remark follows a recent, similar comment from Monsef. Compare that with the statement by Government House Leader Dominic Leblanc in late December that seemed to categorically reject the possibility: “Our plan is not to have a national referendum. Our plan is to use Parliament to consult Canadians,” said Leblanc. “That’s always been our plan, and I don’t have any reason to think that’s been changed.”
Leblanc’s words drew a swift from response from interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose, who vowed her party will do all it can to block Liberal electoral-reform legislation if the government doesn’t first put the question to Canadians through a referendum.
The task of recommending a replacement for Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system in time for the 2019 general election will fall to an all-party parliamentary committee, soon to be struck. The Liberals have promised to introduce reform legislation by spring 2017.
Options include preferential ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting. Holland said the government has no preference, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he personally favours preferential ballots.