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Liberals vote to support P.E.I. referendum bill

Voting. (File image)
The Liberals used their majority in the P.E.I. legislature to pass the electoral reform referendum bill through to wait for its third and final reading.

After weeks of debate, the legislation dealing with electoral reform in P.E.I. is a step closer to becoming law.

On Tuesday, the Liberals used their majority in the house to pass the bill through to wait for its third and final reading.

The bill didn’t get an easy pass through the legislature as MLAs spent more time debating it and a string of amendments than they did any other piece of legislation so far this spring.

Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker started the debate by spending about two hours speaking to the bill before MLAs even began to address any of the proposed amendments.

The legislation is necessary to set out the parameters of a referendum that will see Islanders decide if they want to change the province’s electoral system to mixed member proportional representation.

After hearing criticism about some parts of the bill, the government tabled several amendments, including a change to the threshold needed to switch electoral systems.

The government also made changes in an attempt to alleviate concerns raised about stifling freedom of speech during the referendum period.

Several Opposition MLAs tried unsuccessfully to have the bill sent to a committee.

Although the bill moved closer to becoming law, MLAs still have to choose a referendum commissioner, which requires the support of two-thirds of members.

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