Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Monsef Says Mature Democracy Can Do Better Than First-Past-the-Post

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Monsef Says Mature Democracy Can Do Better Than First-Past-the-Post

Article excerpt

Canada's electoral system under microscope


OTTAWA - Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef concedes Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system has its advantages.

And, whatever its flaws, she acknowledges it would be welcomed in fledgling democracies like Afghanistan, from whence she fled as a youngster.

But a mature democracy like Canada can do better, she says.

Monsef has been put in charge of delivering on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's pledge to make last fall's federal election the last conducted under FPTP.

The objective, she says, is to engage voters, improve turn out during elections and make all Canadians feel like their votes count.

That means "a stronger democratic system that allows for a higher voter turnout, that engages the voices of those who at the moment feel like they're ignored, those who feel like their issues don't matter and that their hopes and aspirations don't count," Monsef said in an interview.

"We have an opportunity, with this government as we approach the 150th anniversary, to strengthen and modernize our democratic institutions and bring them into the 21st Century and that is the mandate that we got from Canadians."

Monsef has used the mandate argument to deflect Conservative demands for a Canada-wide referendum on whatever electoral reform is eventually recommended by a soon-to-be-constituted, special all-party committee.

In the interview, she continued to throw cold water on the referendum idea, but didn't absolutely rule it out.

"We need to consider different ways of voting, yes, but we also need to consider online voting, we also need to consider mandatory voting. There are some who suggest that we need to consider the voting age...

"So, to reduce this national conversation to a simple 'Yes' or 'No' is taking a short cut and doing a great disservice to Canadians and to this incredible opportunity we have here to engage Canadians."

Still, Monsef said she's "not ready to commit" to a categorical rejection of a referendum. …

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