Questions asked about electoral reform during town hall meeting in St. George

Barb Rayner/Courier Justin Hatt was one of about 30 people who attended New Brunswick Southwest MP Karen Ludwig's town hall meeting held at Magaguadavic Place in St. George Wednesday evening.

St. George – Electoral reform was a hot topic during a town hall meeting, hosted by New Brunswick Southwest MP Karen Ludwig, at Magaguadavic Place Wednesday evening.
About 30 people attended the meeting, when the MP gave a rundown on some of the government work she has been involved with.

Ludwig then invited questions from the floor.
Justin Hatt questioned the government’s decision not to go forward with electoral reform, which was a campaign platform of the Liberals, and Ludwig, who held two town hall meetings in the riding on the topic, said the people who came to the meetings didn’t support a change in the style of voting.

“What happened across the country is we didn’t get unanimous support, so the challenge was which way do we go? We didn’t get consensus and hundreds of thousands of people were consulted.
“It isn’t over. It had to be finalized by the end of December to come in for 2019. That committee travelled coast to coast to coast, and they were not getting consensus.”
However, she said there will be at least seven changes in how Canadians vote in the 2019 federal election.

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One of these is that if a person goes to vote and they don’t have their voter’s card, someone else can vouch for them.
“If anyone has any ideas, don’t hesitate to send them in to me.”
During discussions around the table, the feeling was that many people didn’t understand exactly what first past the post, or proportional representation, meant, and this was not explained properly.

Maxine Card said proportional representation has worked very well in New Zealand for many years, and it means everyone is working together.
“I think a lot of people didn’t understand that. It is a matter of education.”
Stan Smith said he personally could never get his head around what the government wanted, and he thought the majority of people didn’t understand what was taking place. Ludwig said she felt a year was not enough time to explain it all.

“I will take it back again but, believe me, that message has been brought back by many MPs. Many of them wanted change. I am not sure people were as interested in the change as they are now.
“We will keep the dialogue open and the conversations going. It is too late to change for the 2019 election but we have a lot of work to do on that.”

She said proportional representation, for example, raises a lot of questions as to how it would be implemented.
“There is a lot of work to be done in explaining our current system. How do we increase voter representation and get young people to the polls? What about electronic voting?
“Everything was out there prior to December but we couldn’t get a decision across the board. We need to understand why Canadians are not going to vote, why they are voting for particular parties.
These are all important questions and we need to continue that dialogue.”

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Barb Rayner
Barb Rayner has worked for the Saint Croix Courier for 20 years and is based in her home office in St. George. She covers news stories and events in the Eastern Charlotte area including St. George, Blacks Harbour, Beaver Harbour, Pennfield and Saint Andrews and can be contacted at 321-0517.