Coalition calls on CAQ to nix referendum on electoral reform

The Coalition for electoral reform now!

There's no need for a referendum on changing Quebec's voting system – but if the CAQ government insists on one, it should do it before the next election, a coalition is arguing.

The 'Coalition for electoral reform now!' tried to send that message at a news conference Monday in Montreal ahead of consultations before the parliamentary committee that will study the matter.

The commission examining Bill 39, which details the government's proposal to change the voting system, begins on Wednesday.

Currently, Quebec uses a 'first-past-the-post' system.

Bill 39 would establish a new mixed electoral system with regional compensation, providing for constituency seats and regional seats.

According to the bill, the number of seats in the National Assembly would remain 125. The new electoral law would divide Quebec into 80 larger electoral divisions that will mainly be the same as federal ridings, and 17 wider regions:

  • 80 MNAs would be elected according to the current system
  • 45 MNAs on a list of candidates would be divided among the parties, according to the percentage of votes obtained in the 17 regions

In December, Justice Minister Sonia LeBel, who is sponsoring the bill, tabled several amendments, including calling for a referendum, to be held in 2022, in conjunction with the next provincial election campaign.

The bill on the table is "not satisfactory" and "must be improved considerably," said Marie-Andrée Gauthier, co-spokesperson for Coalition and General Coordinator of the Network of Regional Tables of Women's Groups in Quebec.

The network is part of 30 groups and experts invited to present briefs at the hearings.

"We have all done our homework to bring very concrete proposals to committee on a number of points, such as structural measures for equal, diversified and fair representation for the regions. It is now up to the parties and the government to listen and act in concert so as to make the necessary corrections to achieve a fair and just electoral system," said Gauthier.  

- With files from CTV News Montreal