Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media in Whitehorse on March 7. Silver said April 4 that an independent commission will be struck to look into electoral reform soon, but first he had to discuss it with opposition leaders. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Silver says electoral reform commission to be established ‘very soon’

A call for submissions will be made by the end of the month, he said

Premier Sandy Silver said an independent commission will be struck to look into electoral reform “very soon,” but before kick starting that process, he needed to speak with opposition leaders.

Silver told reporters he had arranged to meet with NDP leader Liz Hanson and interim Yukon Party leader Stacey Hassard after question period on April 4.

Electoral reform was a Liberal Party promise in the 2016 election.

Asked why such a meeting wasn’t arranged earlier, Silver said, “It takes time. People aren’t around in this building. It’s hard to coordinate folks.”

Silver said he hopes a call for submissions will be put out by “end of the month, at the latest” for people who want to be part of the commission.

“Hopefully if everything works within the time we foresee we can get this all done this year. It’s matter of getting things done properly.”

A completed public engagement survey, which hasn’t been released yet, will be parsed over by the commission.

While short on specifics, Silver said that public reaction was mixed.

“We had about as many people saying we should do no change (and) as many people saying we should do change,” he said.

During question period, Hanson suggested the Liberals would not be able to make good on their electoral reform pledge.

“You know, Ms. Speaker, if a commission is announced today — if it visits communities, if it hears from Yukoners and if it produced a report with recommendations — we are looking at about a year’s worth of work,” she said. “If, unlike their response to the Yukon Electoral District Boundaries Commission, this government accepted the recommendations that will require legislative changes, it appears that this government’s inaction leads many to conclude that this electoral reform really never was a priority for this Liberal government,” she said.

Silver said work has been done.

“We are encouraging Yukoners who are interested in helping strengthen our democracy to apply to be members of this commission — but again, we want to speak with the leaders of the opposition first.

“More information about that commission will happen as soon as possible — pretty much as soon as I can meet with the members opposite. We remain committed to an open and non-partisan process and to looking forward to hearing final recommendations from that commission.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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