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We know that we are strongest when we work together. We need to build a national movement for proportional representation so that MPs know Canadians care about making every vote count. 

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Leadnow | March 30, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions about Democracy Heroes

Frequently Asked Questions 

Who is Leadnow?

Leadnow is a non-profit organization and we are not affiliated with any political party. We work across party lines on key issues -- specifically democracy, equality and climate. We are funded primarily by the thousands of members across the country who make individual donations.  We are also funded by grants.

What does being a Democracy Hero mean?

By signing up to be a Democracy Hero, our MPs agree: “that every vote should count and that it's wrong for a party to win 100% of the power with less than half of the vote. I am committed to working within my party to put electoral reform back on the table.”

There will be a vote in the House of Commons at the end of May on electoral reform, and we will be urging all our Democracy Heroes to vote for it. The more MPs who stand up as Democracy Heroes, the better chance this motion has of passing. And if it passes, we are one step closer to reopening the discussion on electoral reform.

What will you do with this petition?

There will be a vote on electoral reform in Parliament at the end of May, and we will be delivering this petition to MPs across the country before this vote so they know we want them to vote to bring electoral reform back to the table.

Can any Member of Parliament (MP) be a Democracy Hero?

Yes! We are urging any MP to take the pledge and be a Democracy Hero! We need all opposition parties to vote for this motion on electoral reform, plus 20 Liberal MPs.

I don’t live in a Liberal riding - what can I do?

Even if you don’t live in a Liberal riding, we want to collect signatures to push our MPs to be Democracy Heroes.  We need our MPs to know that this issue matters to their constituents, and we need them to stand with us in the House of Commons.

We are also prioritizing Liberal MPs, so if you live close to a Liberal riding, we would recommend collecting signatures there.

Which MPs are you targeting?

We have a list of 40 Liberals MPs we are targeting - they have either been supportive of electoral reform in the past, live in a vulnerable riding (where they won by a small margin), or we have strong presence of Leadnow supporters in their riding.

This target list is posted here:

Why do you need all this information on the petition form?

The only information we will be sharing with the government from the petition are people’s names and postal codes, to show they live in the riding.

  • We need people’s e-mails to be able to contact them about next steps in the campaign.  
  • We need people’s postal codes and addresses to show they live in each MPs riding.  
  • We need their phone number because if we have a snap action, we can text/call them and be able to jump into action.
  • We like to know how they voted because this helps show our movement is diverse with people from all political stripes.
  • If they are under 30 question helps us track youth! Which is a very politically important group for the Liberals to win over come election time.
  • We need to know if they want to volunteer, because we want more folks to join us, and this will let us know to follow up with them.
?At a minimum, we need people’s names and postal codes to show they live in the riding.  Their e-mail is also extremely important so we can update them about the campaign, and continue to build the movement for a new voting system.

What did the electoral reform committee (ERRE) recommend?

The special all-party parliamentary committee for electoral reform recommended proportional representation and a referendum. 88% of expert witnesses and 87% of the public who attended consultations were in support of proportional representation.

What’s wrong with Canada’s voting system? Why do we need a new one?

Canada currently uses a voting system called “First-past-the-post”. It’s based on a “winner-take-all” principle, which means that whoever wins the most votes in a riding wins that seat, and everyone who voted for another candidate is just out of luck. It means that many votes are, in effect, wasted.

In recent elections, upwards of half of all voters cast ballots for losing candidates in ridings across the country. In the 2015 federal election, there were over 9 million ineffective votes.

Trudeau’s government set up a parliamentary committee assigned with studying different voting systems around the world, and what would work best for Canada.  This committee recommended Canada move to a proportional representation system.

What is proportional representation?

Proportional representation is based on the principle that the seats a party has in a legislature should reflect the percentage of votes cast for that party. So if a party earns 39% of the votes, it should get roughly 39% of the seats.

Proportional representation is not itself a system, but a term for a family of voting systems based on the principle of proportionality. Countries can, and do, design or alter proportional representation voting systems to meet their unique needs, e.g. to ensure voters elect a local representative in their home riding.


Would we still be able to vote for a local representative in a proportional system?

YES. Experts recommend proportional models for Canada that are designed to include MPs tied to geographical areas.

Under Mixed Member Proportional voters would have 2 votes. One vote to elect a local MP in their local Riding (as we do now); and a second vote for a voter’s prefered Party, which would elect a number of MPs to represent a larger Region in which the voter lived.

Under Single Transferable Vote, includes only local Ridings but Ridings would be larger and voters would be represented by more than one MP. Voters vote for multiple candidates using a ranked ballot.

Would Canada have stable government if we had a proportional system?

YES. Research shows that countries using proportional systems have elections no more frequently than countries using winner-take-all systems. This includes politically stable and economically strong countries such as Germany and New Zealand. It would mean more coalition governments, but politicians have huge incentives to forge alliances and work together.


Can a proportional system contribute to electing a more diverse Parliament?

YES. Proportional representation is strongly correlated with better representation of women and minority groups. Research finds countries that use proportional representation can see up to 8% more women in their legislatures when compared to first-past-the-post systems. In fact, most of the countries with more than 30% women in their legislature use proportional systems.

With proportional systems, a party often runs more than one candidate in a Riding. This creates a natural incentive to offer more diversity to voters, and to move away from running the safest or most “electable” candidate as is the case in our current system.


Aren’t proportional voting systems confusing and fragmented, with too many parties in the legislature?

NO. Our current first-past-the-post system doesn’t have a monopoly on simplicity. In fact, the mechanics of proportional representation systems, based on the principle that the level of support a party receives should be reflected in the numbers of seats in a legislature, can be simple and straightforward with a simple ballot to match. Of course, every voting system takes some getting used to, but Canadians would quickly learn the new system, just like citizens in over 90 countries that currently use proportional representation successfully.

Under PR, Canada would probably see a few new parties elected to Parliament reflecting the preferences of Canadian voters. But it's unlikely that the number of new parties would be of consequence, or disruptive of the Parliamentary agenda, or speed up the electoral cycle. Most countries that use PR require a party to achieve a minimum % level of support before they can win a seat.

And remember: many of the world's top democracies -- Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and many more - use proportional representation and perform exceptionally well without holding frequent elections.