The electoral reform committee is taking more time to gauge Yukoners’ preferences regarding citizens’ assemblies.
The special committee on electoral reform’s reporting deadline has been extended to the 2023 spring sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly to allow the committee to seek more input before making its final recommendations.
The committee is tasked with examining electoral reform and reporting its findings and advice to the legislative assembly.
NDP Leader Kate White chairs the committee alongside vice-chair Brad Cathers, the Yukon Party MLA for Lake Laberge, and John Streicker, the Liberal MLA for Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes.
“A citizens’ assembly is a group of randomly selected citizens who study an issue at length,” White explained in a Nov. 16 interview at the Yukon legislature.
“They have the ability to call witnesses and to learn from experts, and then at the end of it, they make a recommendation about something.”
White pointed to a citizens’ assembly in British Columbia that has internationally become known as the “gold standard.”
“It’s even been replicated now in places like Ireland and Scotland, and they have ongoing citizens assemblies.”
White said the committee heard from “a lot” of folks about citizens’ assemblies and how electoral reform shouldn’t be left up to politicians.
“It’s been really important to us that we do actually get feedback from Yukoners so that people who will be affected by any changes, if changes are made to the electoral system, [have input],” she said.
“We think this is the last question we have to ask before we can make recommendations.”
Representatives from Fair Vote Yukon — spokesperson Linda Leon and member Sally Wright — made their case in favour of citizens’ assemblies at a virtual public hearing held over Zoom on April 22.
Several attendees called for some form of a citizens’ assembly to deal with the question of electoral reform instead of the committee during a hearing in Whitehorse on Sept. 7.
While looking into potential changes to the voting system, the committee has held hearings with expert witnesses and the general public online and in communities, received written submissions and had the Yukon Bureau of Statistics issue a survey that was filled out by more than 6,100 Yukoners.
Keith Archer, the committee’s researcher, prepared an in-depth analysis of the options available. Information about the different types of electoral systems can be found at howyukonvotes.ca.
An interim report featuring the committee’s initial findings will be made public by the end of the fall sitting of the legislative assembly.
Contact Dana Hatherly at email@example.com