Parliamentarians spent more than $600,000 and 200-plus hours compiling a 333-page report recommending major changes to the country’s voting system that was largely rejected by the Trudeau government within hours of its release, new House of Commons statistics show. The Special Committee on Electoral Reform, convened by the House to study and consult on prospective changes to the federal election process, posted the largest tab of any House committee over the course of 2016-17, according to spending figures released last week by the House Liaison Committee, which determines committee budgets. The all-party Electoral Reform Committee spent $477,910 travelling across the country to hear directly from Canadians, with another $125,839 charged for the work of Library of Parliament research assistants and the committee’s operational budget, which includes working meals, reports, and professional services.
In the report, the Electoral Reform Committee recommended a national referendum be held on switching to some sort of proportional representation system at the government’s choosing based on the Gallagher Index, which measures the disparity between the popular vote and seat allocation.
Within hours of its release last fall, then-democratic institutions minister Maryam Monsef (Peterborough-Kawartha, Ont.) trashed the report in the House, accusing the committee of failing to do its job by not recommending a specific electoral system, and announced the government would move on to the next stage in consultations on reform, an online survey at MyDemocracy.ca.
Ms. Monsef, who later apologized for her remarks, was soon shuffled out of the portfolio, though her successor as minister, Karina Gould (Burlington, Ont.), announced earlier this year that the government wouldn’t pursue changes to the electoral system, as promised in the 2015 campaign, after failing to secure a consensus amongst Canadians for an alternative voting process.