A National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform:
Backed by evidence, powered by people
A vote will be happening in Parliament on a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform
The quality of our democracy is facing unprecedented threats. Low voter turnout, mistrust in institutions, polarization, and hostile partisan politics are of deep concern to many. Making progress on electoral reform requires political leadership, but politicians alone won’t fix the system that elected them.
A vote will be happening in Parliament on a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform!
BACKGROUND ON THE MOTION COMING TO A VOTE
In February, 2023, MP Mike Morrice (Kitchener Centre) put forward a private members motion for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform (motion M-76). A motion can have a maximum of 20 joint seconders and the motion quickly achieved that, with MPs from four parties seconding it.
Unfortunately, Mike Morrice’s motion would not have come to a vote in the House of Commons because his name was too far down the list in the “order of precedence” for private members business. The order is established by a random lottery draw at the beginning of each Parliament.
In June, 2023, building on the momentum and cross-partisan support, MP Lisa Marie Barron (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) put forward a new motion for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform (motion M-86).
This motion was debated for the first time on November 7, 2023 and will be voted on most likely in early 2024.
What is a Citizens’ Assembly?
A Citizen’s Assembly is a “mini-public” convened to study and give recommendations on a specific issue.
A National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform:
- Is a non-partisan, independent, trusted process
- Is composed of citizens selected at random, like a jury
- Includes Canadians from all walks of life, with special care to ensure that participants reflect Canadian society, including by age, gender, ethnicity and region of Canada
- Engages citizens to learn from experts, thoughtfully consider an issue, and make a recommendation
Without pre-judging various kinds of electoral systems, a citizens’ assembly will review options to improve our current electoral system. They would be free to recommend keeping the status quo (first-past-the-post), ranked ballots, or a proportional system (including proportional ranked ballots, or any other made-for-Canada PR).
Who supports a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform?
- seconding MP Mike Morrice’s motion for Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform (M-76)
- seconding MP Lisa Marie Barron’s motion for a Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform (M-86)
- supporting a resolution for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform that was officially adopted as Liberal Party policy at the party’s May 2023 national convention.
- responding to invitation to have their name added to this website in support
NOTE: MPs who are Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries can express public support for a Citizens’ Assembly, but cannot second a private member’s motion in Parliament. We invite all MPs to support a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform! If your MP would like to be added below, they can simply fill in this form.
Notable non-partisan Canadians also back a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform – click to see who’s in support.
MPs and former MPs who support a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform
Notable NON-PARTISAN endorsers
of a National Citizens’Assembly on Electoral Reform
Directeur exécutif d’Apathy is Boring, une organisation caritative non partisane qui soutient l’engagement des jeunes dans la démocratie canadienne.
Dave Meslin, electoral reform and ranked ballot activist, author of “Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up”
Alex Himelfarb, Former Clerk of the Privy Council, Director Emeritus of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs
Melissa S. Williams, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto. Founding Director of University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics.
Alex Neve, OC: Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, former Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
Sheryl Lightfoot, Vice Chair and North American Member on the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), Canada Research Chair of Global Indigenous Rights and Politics
Monique Deveaux, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Ethics & Global Social Change, University of Guelph
Steve Morgan, Director of the UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research (CHSPR). Research Lead for the National Citizens’ Reference Panel on Pharmacare
Shoni Field, Member of BC Citizens’ Assembly, Member of the Vancouver Independent Election Task Force.
Linda Silver Dranoff, Order of Canada, founding chair of the Feminist Legal Analysis Section of the Ontario Bar Association, writer, activist.
EKOS Poll: A strong majority of Canadians back a National Citizen’s
Assembly on Electoral Reform
In December, 2022, EKOS found that 76% of Canadians,supported a Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform. See the full poll results here.
Support for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform by party voters:
Motion M-86, Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform
(a) the House recognize that,
(i) representative democracy is a fundamental part of Canadian society,
(ii) in Canada’s current electoral system, the majority of voters cast ballots for a candidate who does not get elected, and many voters feel that election results do not accurately reflect their views,
(iii) a Leger poll conducted in September 2020 showed that 80% of Canadians support the idea of striking a non-partisan, independent citizens’ assembly on electoral reform,
(iv) many Canadians are concerned with the health of Canada’s democracy, including voter distrust and disengagement, low voter turnout, and the polarization of politics,
(v) all politicians, and all parties, are widely perceived by the public to have a vested interest in the design of the electoral system,
(vi) citizens’ assemblies have considerable legitimacy and public trust because they are independent, non-partisan, representative bodies of citizens,
(vii) citizens’ assemblies have been used successfully in Canada, Australia, Belgium, France, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to tackle difficult issues through nuanced public deliberation,
(viii) a citizens’ assembly on electoral reform would give citizens a leadership role in building consensus on a specific model for electoral reform for Canada; and
(b) in the opinion of the House, the government should create a Canadian citizens’ assembly on electoral reform, which would,
(i) consist of citizens selected by sortition, an impartial selection process to ensure the assembly’s independence and non-partisanship,
(ii) reflect the diversity of the Canadian population, including a representation and meaningful participation of age groups, genders, ethnicities, languages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and geographic regions including from First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples,
(iii) determine if electoral reform is recommended for Canada, and, if so, recommend specific measures that would foster a healthier democracy.