Bigger than expected turnout for Cloverdale – Langley City forum on electoral reform

MP John Aldag says there will be at last two more public meetings with residents of the riding

After a Tuesday night forum on voting reform produced a larger-than-expected turnout, Cloverdale – Langley City MP John Aldag said there will likely be at least two more public meetings and a mail-out on the issue for residents of the riding.

Among the more than 20 speakers at the town hall forum was Dean Drysdale, the Conservative Party candidate who ran second to Aldag in the last federal election.

“You can put me down as someone who doesn’t think our system is broken,” Drysdale said.

“It’s seen us through revolutions, world wars, Depressions and even Liberal governments.”

Drysdale was one of several who said there should be a referendum before any changes to the current system are made.

Others told the forum the government should make the call.

Timothy Jones, a Fort Langley resident who has campaigned for an overhaul to the current system as a member of Fair Vote Canada, suggested any referendum would be very costly.

Jones said it should wait until Canadians have had a chance to get used to a new system, after at least two elections have been held.

Around 120 people turned out for the meeting at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, more than the 80 to 100 expected.

Aldag’s office estimated another 500 watched the online video feed of the two-and-a-half-hour session.

The Cloverdale – Langley City MP was appointed in June to the Special House of Commons committee that is reviewing Canada’s electoral system.

“This is a very important discussion to Canadians,” Aldag told the meeting.

“The last thing that I want to do is … to be a member of parliament who gets it wrong.”

He said more meetings to discuss electoral reform with riding residents were likely.

“This is my first kick at it and I’m happy to come back in the fall.”

Aldag said it was too soon to make a decision one way or the other about a referendum.

“We don’t even know the question we’d be asking,” Aldag told the meeting.

During an interview with The Times afterwards, Aldag said his impression is that most Canadians want the government to act rather than hold a referendum.

“(I’m hearing) it’s time that we get on with it,” Aldag said.

During the past federal election, the Liberals promised a wide-ranging review of various alternatives to the current first-past-the-post system of voting that awards victory based on which party has the most votes in individual ridings.

The system has been criticized for allowing parties to form governments without winning a majority of the overall popular vote, such as when the new Liberal government won with 40 per cent of the popular vote.

The committee is also examining whether voting should be mandatory and if people should be allowed to cast ballots online.

The committee is composed of five Liberals, three Conservatives, two NDP, one Bloc Quebecois and one Green Party member.

 

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