Democratic Reform Progress Letter
February 6, 2018
The below letter was sent to 1400 Guelphites who expressed their interest in improving Canada's democratic systems. In the spirit of transparency, I would like all Guelphites to have access to it and view it here.
18 January 2018
This past year I have been happy to see so many members of the Guelph community remain engaged in various ways to strengthen our democracy. I have been pleased to receive multiple petitions on Local Proportional Representation. It has been inspiring to see members of our community bring their discussions to Ottawa. I am sending this note to the 1400 people of Guelph who have signed petitions as well as to those who have otherwise expressed interest in electoral, democratic, or parliamentary reform.
Our government committed to repealing the elements of the so-called Fair Elections Act that made it harder for Canadians to vote. That is why we introduced Bill C-33. This legislation would restore the Voter Information Card as valid identification for casting a ballot. It would also restore vouching; expand the Chief Electoral Officer’s communications mandate, and; create a National Register of Future Electors. This new register will make it easier for young Canadians to ensure they are on the voters list when they turn 18. Our government remains committed to ensuring these important measures are in place for the next election.
Last spring, the Minister of Democratic Institutions asked the Communications Security Establishment to produce an assessment of the cyber threats facing our democracy. This assessment was released in June. CSE has also met with federal political parties and provincial/territorial election agencies to brief them on cyber security. Our government will continue to the monitor these threats and remains committed to protecting our democracy.
Reforming the way parliament conducts its business has been another area where we have taken action to improve Canada’s democracy. For instance, we are reforming Question Period so that all members, including the Prime Minister, are held to greater account, through a weekly Question Period that has all questions directed to the Prime Minister by any MP. We have taken steps to ensure more free votes in the House of Commons, provide parliamentary oversight of national security, conduct special hearings on Supreme Court appointments, introduce more civility to political debate, and foster greater independence of House of Commons committees while increasing their resources. These changes are representative of our government’s commitment to real change to improve Canada’s parliamentary democracy.
I am happy to have a close working relationship with Democracy Guelph and will continue to work with them into the future. I am pleased to have tabled their petitions in Parliament which have a total of 1,400 unique signatures coming from Guelph after duplicates and out of riding signatures were removed. This represents roughly 1.5% of Guelph’s 95,000 electors, which is similar to what we saw during the electoral reform consultations held throughout 2016. A recommendation from the Conservative, Green, and NDP members of the Special Committee on Electoral reform was to hold a referendum on proportional representation. As you know, the government decided now was not the time to hold a national referendum on proportional representation. We hope the work of Democracy Guelph can inform future discussions.
Once again, thank you for your commitment to electoral reform and Canada’s democracy. I will continue to be your voice in Ottawa and continue to work with you to strengthen the workings of Canada’s democracy.