|ELECTORAL REFORM IN THE NEWS|
|Monday, 10 October 2005 00:00|
or How To Stop Dinner Conversations Cold - Oct. 2005
"The (legislative democracy) report, released January 2005 ... (was) one of the most comprehensive and well-researched reports in recent memory (but) it received scant attention. ... (Mr. Lord has) asked a group of civil servants to report back to him on how best to implement if not all of them, then at least the ones that caught his attention. That work will soon be turned over to Mr. Lord to consider his ultimate response - later this fall." - Fixed elections are in the stars for province, Lisa Hrabluk column, T-J, Sept 1 05. Report of the NB Commission on Legislative Democracy www.gnb.ca/0100/index-e.asp
"In time, I will be releasing a more comprehensive response to the Commission on Legislative Democracy and on more than that, in fact. There were some issues which were not raised by the Commission and which I want us to address as a government. These will be part of the response, and that is what we will be completing now." - Premier Bernard Lord, Hansard Dailies, Jun 30 05.
Devotees of electoral reform ... can talk about it endlessly, recite what happened in Ireland, Malta or New Zealand, ... stop dinner conversations cold with seat-count projections based on different systems. The public, it would seem, doesn't much care. Except that the public... doesn't like politicians, the political system, political elites... and senses ... that anything would be better than what exists. Hence electoral reform's potential appeal. The (2004) New Brunswick Commission (on Legislative Democracy)... worked in the shadow of some election results that badly mismatched the share of seats won to share of vote. In 1987, McKenna's Liberals won 60% of the vote but all the legislative seats. In 1999 ... Lord's party took 53% of the vote but 80% of the seats. ...NB's Commission proposed a mixed-member, proportional-representation system, such as the one used for 3 elections in New Zealand and for decades in Germany. It's also the one PEI will be asked to adopt. Voters would be handed 2 ballots. On one, they would choose a candidate for one of 36 individual-member constituencies; on the other, they would select a party preference in one of 4 regions. Those preferences would then be tallied and votes apportioned to candidates on party lists. Had this system been used, most NB governments would have remained majority ones, but with more robust oppositions. The new system makes some sense for a small province without an upper house. ... It's not a proven case that electoral change will bring the virtues proponents promise, such as a sharply higher turnout, more political participation and many more women and minorities. But if there must be change, then the new system proposed for New Brunswick and PEI does the least harm. - Messing with voting systems? First, do no harm, Jeffrey Simpson, Globe & Mail, May 28 05
Electoral Boundaries Revisited - Two female judges were named in August 2005 as co-chairs of the province's new Electoral Boundaries and Representation Commission: Justices Margaret Larlee and Brigitte Robichaud (along with David Brown, Normand Carrier, Richard Myers, Réginald Paulin and Pam Ward) will redraw the boundaries of NB's 55 ridings before the next election. They will hold public hearings and submit their report to the legislature by Nov. 20, 2005. The new boundaries will be the first drawn under the independent process established by a law that came into effect in June 2005. The creation of this Commission was a key recommendation of the Commission on Legislative Democracy.