June 25, 2015
Dear Premier Notley,
Re: Adoption of Proportional Representation in Alberta
I am writing on behalf of the Green Party of Alberta to urge your government to bring about much-needed electoral reform, specifically, proportional representation. But I want first to express my great delight that the NDs have formed government and in the process replaced a party which was long, long past its best-buy date. It’s a new, much better day for Alberta’s political culture and I thank you for running the kind of campaign that made much-needed change possible. Congratulations.
But on to the need to change our electoral system: By moving to elect MLAs by proportional representation, our future legislatures would much more accurately reflect the range of political views of the people of Alberta. Those legislatures would unquestionably have greater democratic legitimacy than under the present system. Every vote cast in Alberta would count.
There would be of course many details to be worked out about such a significant change. For one thing, there are various forms of PR. However, political wisdom in Canada increasingly points to the mixed member process (MMP), which is used successfully in such well-governed countries as Germany, New Zealand and Scotland, as the best one for Canada.
But the first step is the biggest and most important one – reaching the determination that our present system must go. It denies a meaningful vote to many citizens of this province, and I am sure you are well aware of the result: voter discontent, apathy, and a sense of disconnection between those voters and the government. Indeed, I was stunned to learn that even though political change was hanging in the balance, voter turnout in the May election was still barely over 50%. The problem is a serious one for the health of our democracy.
Alberta Greens would like to see a two-step process used to change our electoral system – first, a referendum on whether to keep the status quo or move towards change and, second, a vote on the particular form of PR as recommended by a citizens’ assembly, something like the one convened in British Columbia for the same purpose. There is plenty of room for compromise on the approach to be taken to making change but really no doubt that change is needed.
Further, there is little for a government to lose and a great deal to be gained by moving to PR. PR wouldn’t prevent the dominant party in the province from winning a series of victories. If Albertans want to elect the NDs to form government, they will continue to do so under PR. However, using PR would ensure that those victories were not greatly disproportionate to the popular vote received by the dominant party and would also ensure that other political voices are better represented in the Legislature.
I encourage you to make electoral reform part of the agenda for your government’s first term in office and I would be pleased to discuss the matter with you at any point.
With best wishes,
Leader, Green Party of Alberta
cc: Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice; Brian Jean, Leader, Wildrose Party, Official Opposition; Ric McIver, Interim Leader, Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta; David Swann, Interim Leader, Alberta Liberal Party; Greg Clark, Leader, Alberta Party.