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April 26, 2005
For immediate release

Commission Work Proceeding Toward Plebiscite

Legislative Assembly

The Commission on PEI's Electoral Future is working toward increasing the public’s knowledge of both the current electoral system, known as First Past the Post, and a Mixed Member Proportional System. Commissioners, led by Chair Leonard Russell, began meeting on March 2nd, 2005 and, to date, have held 8 meetings.

The Commission will carry out a public education program on electoral reform. Through this process, Islanders will look at the two electoral systems to get ready for a plebiscite vote on which electoral system is preferred. Following the education program, a date for a plebiscite will be recommended, and Islanders will be asked to cast a vote for either a proposed Mixed Member Proportional System or the First Past the Post System.

In January of 2005, the Standing Committee on Legislative Management appointed the Commission on PEI's Electoral Future. The creation of the Commission is the Legislative Assembly’s response to recommendations in the PEI Electoral Reform Commission report which was released in 2003. Chief Justice Norman Carruthers served as Chair of the Commission. The Report identified other electoral systems and recommended that the PEI electorate consider a Mixed Member Proportional System. This system awards some seats in the legislature to parties based on the percentage of popular vote gained in the general election.

The Commission on PEI’s Electoral Future will hold public meetings in the fall of 2005. The pros and cons of both a Mixed Member Proportional System and the First Past the Post System will be presented to the public at the meetings. At the meetings, it is anticipated that significant discussion and debate will result.

“I am pleased with the work of the Commission to date,” said Commission Chair, Leonard Russell. “Our discussions have been productive and we have reached our initial targets.

“The system that Commissioners will propose for consideration will address some of the problems which occur when the Government has a large majority in the legislature. That proposed system would make it possible for the legislature to become more reflective of the popular vote,” Russell added. “In four of the last five elections, 1989, 1993, 2000 and 2003, the winning party gained large majorities. The size of the Opposition, following these elections, ranged from the present four Members to a low of one Member. A larger Opposition would be better able to fulfill its role in the Legislative Assembly as well as on Legislative Committees. I encourage all Islanders to think about electoral reform. Furthermore, I invite interested individuals and community groups to contact us with suggestions. The Commission welcomes requests from groups to have a commissioner present at a regular meeting.”

For further information or comment, please contact Leonard Russell, Chair, Commission on P.E.I.’s Electoral Future, (902) 886-2665.

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Media Contact: Island Information Service
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