Fair Vote Nova Scotia continues to lobby for electoral reform

The Liberal Party of Canada’s website states, under the section entitled “Electoral Reform” that 2015 would be “the last election held under the first-past-the-post voting system.”

Now that website needs an update.

Andy Blair is the president of Fair Vote Nova Scotia, a grassroots initiative fighting for proportional representation. He was happy with the news in 2015 when it was announced that electoral reform would make its way onto the Liberal Party’s platform.

“That was the meat on the bone on their promise of real change,” he says, referring to the Liberal Party’s slogan during the run-up to the 2015 election.

After Prime Minister Trudeau’s government renounced electoral reform on the first day of February, Blair and other Fair Vote Nova Scotia members must continue to fight for the change they want to see.

Fair Vote Canada has been active since 2001, advocating for proportional representation: an election system where the number of votes determine the percentage of power each party holds. In 2007, a chapter began in Nova Scotia.

Blair was voted President of the Nova Scotia chapter in 2012, a chapter which he claims was becoming defunct. Since then, the group has met with every MP in the Province and continues to hold meetings, panel discussions and letter writings.

Blair got involved in Fair Vote Canada as an undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa, when he began a small network of used textbook stores in Ottawa and Montreal, near McGill University.

“A lot of my fellow students didn’t participate in the elections, and basically the political life of the country,” says Blair. “They felt that their vote didn’t count.”

Blair claims voters still feel this way. He points to an online petition on the Parliament of Canada website which was begun in November 2016.

It now has over 130,000 signatures.

Blair says active interest in electoral reform disproves Prime Minister Trudeau’s claim that too few Canadians support electoral reform.

“That’s not true,” says Blair. “I believe Canadians do care about their democracy.”

Fair Vote Nova Scotia believes electoral reform would bring change to every aspect of the governmental structure.

“The way we elect our parliament impacts voter participation, the political climate, governance and virtually every decision made,” says Blair.

Leading up to the 2019 election, Fair Vote Nova Scotia’s mission is education.

“We will shift to a more public education position to talk to people about why this issue is important and stress the need that we do need reform in order to face the challenges Canada has in the future,” says Blair.

Ben Mowat, a student at University of King’s College and member of Fair Vote Nova Scotia, says that along with education, cooperation is key.

“Going forward I can see it being a lot of both. I can see [Fair Vote Nova Scotia] pushing for education, in conjunction with political parties that are for proportional representation,” says Mowat.

Fair Vote Nova Scotia plans to hold regular meetings and continue to meet with Nova Scotia MPs such as Darrell Samson, who will discuss reform with the group next week.

In a province where all 11 Members of Parliament are Liberal, Blair says the issues of the current Canadian electoral system seem obvious.

“That’s pretty misrepresentative,” says Blair, concerning the current political landscape of Nova Scotia.

Blair hopes that he, and the rest of Fair Vote Nova Scotia, can encourage real change by holding the Liberal Party to their word.  

“Do they want to reverse course and respect their election promise, or do they want to continue to throw democracy and Canadians under the bus?”