Local MPs disagree on need for electoral reform referendum

Conservatives calling for vote, while Liberals say its not necessary

Questionnaires were sent to residents in Abbotsford from MP Ed Fast's constituency office.

Canadians wishing to voice their opinion on potential changes to the way they elect federal politicians have less than a week left, if they want their views to be heard by a special committee.

The committee, composed of MPs from five parties, was formed in June and has a deadline of Nov. 30 for input from across the country before making a report.

Both members of parliament for Abbotsford’s two ridings, Conservative Ed Fast and Liberal Jati Sidhu, have been soliciting feedback on the issue from their constituents in recent months with apparently different results.

Fast’s constituency office has sent large flyers to households in his riding with information on electoral reform and a questionnaire section, which recipients are asked to mail back, indicating whether or not they prefer a referendum on the issue.

Fast said he didn’t know how many of his constituents had responded or how they answered the question.

But polling and his own discussions with citizens suggest a “large majority of Canadians” want to have a referendum, he said.

The results of two public opinion polls shown on Fast’s mailer appear to back up his claims, with two-thirds or more of respondents to Forum Research and Ipsos Public Affairs surveys saying they want a referendum.

“Whatever system is being proposed, if it’s going to be a change from the existing system, you have to go to the people directly on a referendum,” Fast said.

Despite claims to the contrary by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Fast said he believes the Liberal party favours a “ranked ballot” electoral system, in which voters rank their favourite to least-favourite candidates.

Polling suggests the Liberals are the most common second choice among supporters of other parties in Canada and a “ranked ballot” system would result in “perpetual Liberal governments for a long time,” said Fast.

The Liberals have taken a “cavalier” approach to the reform process from the beginning, Fast said, as evidenced by the original composition of the 12 MP committee, which gave them a majority.

The Liberals did, however, respond to pressure and give up their majority on the committee by appointing more representatives from rival parties.

Sidhu said representation on the committee from all major parties should give Canadians confidence that all views will be heard and its final report will be a fair representation of those views.

He said “Canadians should be happy with the committee report” because of its input from all parties which will be followed by an open discussion in Parliament.

“The outcome, I think, Canadians should accept,” said Sidhu.

Unlike Fast, Sidhu has not solicited opinions from his constituents using a mailer sent to homes, but he has hosted a town hall meeting and received many phone calls and emails on the subject, he said. In sharp contrast to Fast’s assertions, Sidhu estimates only 10 per cent of constituents he has heard from favour a referendum on electoral reform.

“We had a referendum on Oct. 19, 2015,” Sidhu said, referring to the day his party was elected on a platform which including electoral reform.

Just Posted

Man who fled cops and dumped truck at golf course pleads guilty

Incident in January involved arrests by Mission and Ridge Meadows RCMP

ABBY ELECTION HUB: Everything you need to know in one spot

Interviews, Q&As, info on how to vote, stories on the issues and candidate bios all in one place.

Voting basics: How, where and when to vote on Oct. 20

Polls will be open for 12 hours this Saturday as Abbotsford picks a new mayor and council

Few women and young faces among candidate crowd

Abbotsford candidates for mayor and council representative – and not – of city’s population

Abbotsford DPAC says school board’s sole all-candidates forum a success

Candidates asked about SOGI resources, involvement in school district, experience and strategic plan

VIDEO: Applelooza 2018 at Abbotsford’s Lepp Farm Market

Fifth annual event celebrates apple harvest

UPDATE: B.C. man who swam naked with sharks arrested

David Weaver, of Nelson, will face mischief and assault charges

Canada Post union issues strike notice; rotating strikes could begin Monday

Union says rotating strikes will begin if agreements aren’t reached with bargaining units

Carole James avoids questions on B.C.’s payroll tax (with video)

Green MLA Adam Olsen cites huge tax increase for local business

BCTF wins grievance over teacher shortage in public schools

Arbitrator found Chilliwack school district did not hire enough on-call teachers or librarians

2 charged for feeding B.C. bear Tim Horton’s timbits

Court documents show that Randy Scott and Megan Hiltz have both been charged with feeding or attempting to feed dangerous wildlife.

Killer-rapist Paul Bernardo set for parole bid after 25 years in prison

Bernardo’s parole hearing at the Bath Institution is expected to attract numerous observers

Feds aiming to select preferred design for $60B warships by end of month

Defence insiders say the government wants to select a design by the end of the month from among three options submitted by several of the largest defence and shipbuilding companies in the world.

Most Read