Yukoners will soon have a chance to weigh in on the topic of electoral reform.
A committee formed of MLAs Kate White, Brad Cathers and John Streicker met last week to listen to expert witnesses providing context for electoral reform around the country.
“I don’t think my thoughts on electoral reform are any surprise, it was actually a platform commitment [for the NDP.] So I would say right now, my education is ramping up and I think that’s really fantastic. I learned some things that I didn’t know and I just look forward to learning more,” said chair Kate White.
“Ultimately our recommendations will come from the will of the people and things that we’ve learned. And I think those are all really important aspects when talking about this democratic process,” she said.
Presentations wrapped up Jan. 31, after a final presentation by committee researcher Keith Archer. Earlier in the week the panel heard from academics from across Canada and in New Zealand.
The committee’s role is to conduct research around electoral reform and make recommendations to the legislature by the 2022 fall sitting. White said the next step in the process is consulting with Yukoners.
To that end, a public survey will be conducted by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics at the end of February that will gather information on public opinion around the topic.
Expert hearings have now wrapped up, and are available to the public to view or listen to online. There will also be a chance for Yukoners to share their thoughts in future public hearings as the committee continues its work during the summer.
“The videos are really informative and I think they challenged us in different ways. So this is a good base before we go forward and talk to the public,” said White.
Referring to a comment from one of the expert hearings, Streicker noted that it’s important to get more people involved because “most people don’t dream in electoral systems.”
“But I think about them a lot, so I’m happy to talk to people who care about this stuff. For me it was totally fascinating to listen to some of the experts from across the country and beyond, about their experience with not just electoral systems, but the process of looking at electoral systems and how you engage the public,” he said.
Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers said his party has not initiated the electoral reform discussion, but comes at it with an open mind focused on whether or not there is broad public support for a change.
“Ultimately, if change were to be recommended, we continue to emphasize our belief that no change would be legitimate unless it has been presented in a referendum with a clear question, and received clear support from Yukoners,” he said.
Cathers said one of his strongest takeaways from the presentations this week was the number of experts who encouraged the committee to consider the problems they wanted to solve with a change. He said he isn’t sure yet if Yukoners want change.
“I do look forward to hearing from people across the territory about what their views are on this as it evolves,” he said.
“I would encourage people to judge [the expert presentations] themselves, as well as to take the time during the committee’s work, to attend public meetings, to express their views as well as to fill out the survey that will be coming out and to take advantage of the opportunity to email the committee directly,” he said.
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