Why we need Operation Postcard
This December, the Canadian government mailed out 13 million postcards, advising all Canadians to complete an online survey about electoral reform. It appears Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef are sincere in their desire to solicit input on our voting process. However, Greens can’t be complacent; we must send a clear message that we still have an appetite for voting reform.
The postcard campaign presents a few problems:
- The cards are arriving during the holiday season, precisely the time of year that we are most distracted by personal obligations. If few Canadians complete the online survey, this could be interpreted as disinterest in electoral reform and could justify the Liberals breaking their promise to abolish the first-past-the-post voting system.
- Some of these questions are misleading, and can overstate the potential downsides to a change in the voting system. For example, the ballot complexities are exaggerated. A proportional representation ballot will be different from current Canadian ballots, but will remain simple and fast to fill out. The survey, at times, suggests otherwise.
- The campaign may actually be a cleverly disguised, non-binding plebiscite, rather than an opinion survey.
- There are no guidelines which outline the transparency of gathering, interpreting and publishing the data produced, or what percentage of response will be considered actionable.
Lessons from Prince Edward Island
We must be skeptical about the postcard survey, because we are witnessing how the campaign for proportional representation is going awry in Prince Edward Island. In October and November 2016, a provincial plebiscite determined that Islanders supported a proportional voting system. However, the Liberal Government of PEI is not accepting the plebiscite results and is not reforming the voting system. Instead, they are putting the question of proportional representation on the ballot again: during the next provincial election in 2019. We can’t let these stall tactics derail the national electoral reform survey. Completing the survey at mydemocracy.ca will show Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef that Canadians want Electoral Reform now.
During Operation Postcard, we are aiming to engage our members and electoral district associations. Canadian Greens will gather in local groups fill out the surveys together. Participants can film, photograph, or livestream postcard parties to raise awareness about Operation Postcard. Those images can be shared with local and national media, partner organizations, Members of Parliament, the Prime Minister, Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef, and GPC HQ. This shows that Canadians care about electoral reform and that we are working together to make it happen!