A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Preferential Ballot Recommended for New Brunswick

An independent commission on electoral reform in New Brunswick is recommending the province adopt a preferential ballot for choosing members of the legislature. The commission's report, released Friday morning, says that would lead to a legislature that is more representative of what voters want.

A preferential ballot "is a modest, pragmatic choice for reform that does not create its own series of problems, as a wholesale change to another electoral system would," "It also keeps things simple and easy, so that everyone can understand how to vote and that their vote really counts." the report says.
A modest, pragmatic choice for reform that was completely rejected by the recent federal committee studying Electoral Reform, however New Brunwickers should not expect a new voting system to be in place anytime soon as the dreaded Referendum word is once again being thrown about, not by the commission but by the government.

“Any government would have to have a clear mandate from the people of New Brunswick to make that type of change. A mandate could be seeked through a referendum, and it could be seeked through a political party’s platform,” Gallant said Friday.
Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs agrees. “The Official Opposition believes that any changes to our democracy must be decided democratically through a referendum or ballot question. Democratic reform has to be democratic,” he said.
The commission also recommended lowering the voting age and the age limit for being a candidate from 18 years to 16 years.

It says people who get involved in politics at a young age are more likely to stay involved, and it rejects the idea that 16–year–olds are too young to vote. "The commission was encouraged by the level of maturity and intelligence displayed by the young New Brunswickers with whom it met," the report says. But because it wants young voters to stay in school, the report says anyone 16 or older but younger than 18 wanting to run for office would have to have a valid high school diploma.
Other recommendations include:
  • Lowering the maximum donation of money to a political party by a person, union or business from the current $6,000.
  • Phasing out donations from unions and businesses after the 2018 election.
  • Creating a temporary financial incentive for political parties that nominate more women candidates.
  • Allowing non–citizens who are permanent residents to vote in provincial and municipal elections.
  • Teaching more about government, politics and voting in the school system.
  • Bringing back a law that requires parties to provide a costing of their election promises.
  • Moving the fixed date for provincial elections from the fourth Monday in September to the third Monday in October. That would avoid university and college students new to the province being excluded by a rule that says a voter must live here for 40 days before they can vote.

The entire committee was in favour of e-voting, but said government should not proceed with online voting at this time due to security, confidentiality and privacy concerns.

“I think it would be irresponsible on our part to recommend moving in that direction until such time as we have assurances that we can really have a safe, secure system that ensures ballot secrecy. If we don’t have those assurances we don’t believe the time is right,” committee member Alcorn said.
I wish then luck with this “modest, pragmatic choice for reform”, at least they have a firm understandable choice to put on a referendum ballot should they choose to do that!

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