NDP want Liberals to give up majority on electoral reform committee

Opposition suspect Liberals want to ensure a ranked ballot system to boost their electoral chances

OTTAWA – The New Democrats are trying to get the Liberals to change the makeup of the committee that will study changes to the way Canadians vote.

The NDP is planning to introduce an opposition day motion Thursday that would call on the government to give up its majority of seats on the electoral reform committee that will examine alternatives to the first-past-the-post electoral system currently in place.

The opposition has been accusing the Liberals of stacking the deck in their party’s favour by giving themselves a majority of the seats with voting rights on the all-party committee.

They have said they suspect the Liberals want to ensure the committee ends up proposing a ranked ballot system that would shore up their electoral chances.

Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef refutes this argument.

“The only outcome that we have arrived at to this point is bringing together parliamentarians in this place to review the options available to us,” Monsef said Wednesday during question period.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen said he is optimistic the Liberals will back the motion following a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday.

“There’s a lot of interest and enthusiasm for what we’ve proposed,” Cullen told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday.

“My sense in talking through some of the back channels (is) that there’s opportunity here,” Cullen said.

The current makeup of the committee would have six Liberals, three Conservatives and one New Democrat, with a Bloc MP and the Green Party’s Elizabeth May on the committee but without a vote.

The NDP is proposing the committee be made up of five Liberals, three Conservatives, two New Democrats, a Bloc MP, and May, with everyone getting a vote.

The motion, which would be binding if passed, would also mean the committee would begin meeting within 10 days.

“I think Canadians will welcome enough conversation about the process to start the process, but to actually begin the conversation around electoral reform,” Cullen said.

A spokesman for Monsef said there is not much to add until after the debate.