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Islanders can get informed about P.E.I. electoral reform beginning Jan. 17

Islanders were going to the polls a year ago in the plebiscite on electoral reform
(File Graphic)
(File Graphic)

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Islanders will soon have their say about whether to keep or replace their current electoral system.

The next provincial election will include an electoral reform referendum question on the ballot, and a series of educational meetings will begin across the province this week to discuss the two options.

Referendum Commissioner Gerard Mitchell will host the meetings and take questions from Islanders. The meetings are open to anyone.

Depending on the turnout at the first few meetings, Mitchell will schedule up to 17 so anyone who wants can get a chance to learn more and ask questions.

The two options are the current first-past-the-post system and mixed-member proportional representation.

Mark Greenan, the campaign manager for proportional representation in the 2005 and 2016 plebiscites, said he wants to see some changes.

“The first-past-the-post system consistently fails Island voters in terms of providing both a balanced legislature and an opposition that’s able to hold that government to account in the legislature,” Greenan said.  “It is less democratic than a system that ensures that most perspectives are reflected in the legislature and that ensures that whatever government is formed after an election truly reflects a majority of Island voters. I think the idea is becoming more and more popular here on Prince Edward Island.”

Gary Morgan is one Islander who doesn’t see the need for change. The veterinarian from O’Leary hopes Islanders will try to fully understand their options.

“People will support a party if the platform is what they wish," Morgan said. "I have faith in that system.”

Morgan sees those in favour of proportional representation as looking for “change for change sake” and don’t fully understand the risks – continuous minority governments and nine MLAs who won’t answer to the people, but to a party.

The first meeting will be at Ellerslie Elementary School, 1226 Ellerslie Rd. at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.

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