Welcome to meeting 21 of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform. We're in our afternoon session.
We have with us Dr. Richard Johnston of the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia; Mr. Darrell Bricker from IPSOS Public Affairs; and Mr. Gordon Gibson, who is known to many, of course, through his writings and commentary.
Allow me to first provide you with a short biography for each of the witnesses appearing before you today.
Richard Johnston is a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia as well as the Canada Research Chair in Public Opinion, Elections, and Representation. Dr. Johnston is also a Marie Curie research fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, where he is the visiting scientist in a venture seeking to train young scholars on the matters of elections and democracy. He is currently also the director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions. Dr. Johnston was principal investigator of the 1988 and 1992-93 Canadian election surveys, and was a consultant for the 1996 New Zealand election study. He served as advisory board member for the 2001, 2005, and 2009 British election studies, and was a member of the planning committee for the United States national election study pilot in 1998. Dr. Johnston is widely published, and has won four American Political Science Association awards and four book prizes.
Welcome, Dr. Johnston. We're very pleased you're with us today.
Darrell Bricker is the CEO of IPSOS Public Affairs. In 1989, he worked in Prime Minister Mulroney's office as director of public opinion research. Mr. Bricker has a Ph.D. from Carleton University and an honorary doctorate of laws from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Mr. Bricker published a long list of academic papers and works. He writes editorials for the National Post and The Globe and Mail regularly. In 2010, Mr. Bricker was appointed honorary colonel by the national defence minister for his contributions to Canada. He is currently a member on the board of the Laurier Institute for the study of public opinion and policy. He is also a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.
Welcome, Mr. Bricker.
Gordon Gibson is a politician, political columnist, and author. He has a B.A. from the University of British Columbia and an M.B.A. from Harvard University. Mr. Gibson served as assistant to the federal minister of northern affairs from 1963 to 1968 and as special assistant to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau from 1968 to 1972, in addition to serving in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 1970s and 1980s. Since 1993 he has been a senior fellow in Canadian studies at the Fraser Institute, and has written many books on Canadian federalism and governance. In 2001 he was asked by the Government of British Columbia to provide recommendations on the structure and mandate of a citizens' assembly on electoral reform, which so far we've talked about often at this committee. These recommendations were later adopted. In 2008 Mr. Gibson was awarded the Order of British Columbia.
I believe each presenter will be presenting for 10 minutes. Then we'll have two rounds of questions, where each member of the committee gets to ask questions and receive answers for five minutes each. We will just repeat that format for the second round.
Without further ado, I will ask Professor Johnston to share with us his thoughts on electoral reform.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'll open by saying that some of the information you gave is as out of date as the photograph on my web page.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Prof. Richard Johnston: I regret the latter more than the former.
I just want to make four big points, drawn from the five-page statement I sent last week. One is that I find it distressing that so much of the commentary on electoral reform represents the House as if it's a species of the U.S. Congress or some entity that is part of a congressional framework and not the constitutive chamber for the government, which inevitably it is in a parliamentary system. Voters care about this. They care about this as much under PR as they do under majority rule, because PR will almost always, at least the relevant examples, accompany parliamentary systems. Even under PR, considerations about the formation of the government induce strategic voting. You've probably heard about strategic voting induced by thresholds and that sort of thing.
Even apart from thresholds, many voters actually care about the likely composition of the government once the returns are in. There's some evidence to suggest, for example, that voters on the flanks, or voters on the near flanks, vote for more extreme parties than they themselves prefer in order to pull the government toward them, so to speak. The general point is that you can't isolate the voting moment from the government formation moment. I would say there's been a sort of intellectually lazy separation of those two in much of what's been said here.
The second point, and maybe the one I care the most about at the moment, is that I'm struck that so often wholesale packages are put on the table, and then virtues are claimed for them or vices imputed to them. I think it's absolutely important to remember that any electoral system is actually at a minimum—there are other pieces as well, but at a minimum—a compound of three things. The interaction amongst the three is absolutely necessary to get a grip on what is the likely product of a change in that direction.
First of all, you have to have a ballot. The most important though not the only distinction is whether it's a categorical or a preferential ballot.
Second, the whole question of district magnitude, the number of seats per district, is absolutely a critical element. You can't have proportional representation, obviously, if you have single-member districts. If you have multiple-member districts with a plurality formula, you have grossly disproportional results. Nonetheless, the magnitude of the district is important to a lot of things, not least to the proportionality of a proportional framework.
The third question is the formula itself, where the formula is crystal clear in the case of the plurality rule; semi-clear in the case of the majority, which has kind of two operable forms; and then there's the family, among whom the differences are very consequential for proportional representation. In many cases, effects that are attributed, say, to the formula are actually the product of another feature of the system. It may be that it's a feature of the system that is only relevant under a proportional formula, but it's not the formula as such that's critical.
Let me give you an example. It is generally true, as you've heard, that descriptive representation of females is higher on average in PR systems, but we also observe that there's massive variation within the PR family. It's also within the more majoritarian families, but there's particularly massive variation within the PR family. Some of that variation actually reflects the ballot. If you want to maximize the descriptive representation of any group, women or otherwise, in some sort of guaranteed fashion, it helps to have the largest district magnitude. The larger the number of seat per district, the easier it is to mix up demographic characteristics in the menu that a party presents.
Most importantly, you want to have a ballot that has a closed list, that has a categorical vote, one only per voter. Additionally, outside the electoral formula itself, you want to have a centralized placement of names on the ballot. If you yield to the temptation of derogating from any of those things, you will not have as powerful a mechanism for creating the prospect for guaranteed representation of categoric groups. On the other hand, if what you want to do is facilitate the representation by women or by other groups of forces that in some sense are not incorporated into the central conflict among the parties, you actually want the opposite of all of those things. The general point is that the ballot is often as important as the general formula for the achievement of certain political or social goals.
My third point is that most electoral system change, although New Zealand would be an exception, and possibly Germany, because it was kind of tabula rasa at the time and has a history of partisan objective, either to advance the interests of a party or to retard the interests of another. I think we need to be clear about that. To be silent on that I think is...well, it's dishonest, frankly. It is clear, for one thing, that proportional formulas in general empower the left relative to the right, and the opposite is true for majoritarian formulas. It's just the way it works. If you average across all the consolidated polities postwar, it's really a remarkably stark difference.
Second, a question that will always be in play in a place like Canada is which form of formula, majoritarian versus plurality, politicizes ethnic questions the most? It's actually not a simple answer. It is true that under PR you facilitate the coming into existence of micro-parties, which can be ethnic or otherwise but certainly can be ethnic. That's on the one hand. On the other hand, you do not augment the power of groups that are appealed to by those parties. It is easier for parties with a more national appeal to penetrate into those communities and in some sense dissolve the singular claim of a particular party to speak for them.
On the other hand, or actually a variation on the same theme, our system does create certain privileged, geographically related possibilities. The ancient and most important one in Canada is that until 1993, at least, it made Quebec the pivot for government. By augmenting the power of whatever majority was prevailing in the province at the time, and a whole other set of considerations about whether...but it made Quebec the pivot for government. It has since not been the pivot for government in the same way, but in some sense the pivotal task has been handed over to suburban Vancouver and suburban Toronto.
Those are all good-news, bad-news stories, but we should recognize that geographically differentiated groups, and this often includes ethnolinguistic groups, can actually have their power augmented in the formula we have now. That could be either the price of Canadian unity or the price of successful incorporation of groups, but it does produce a situation in which some votes count more than others. Those counts can help ethnic minorities.
My final few thoughts are about transition, if there is to be one. I am neither in favour of nor opposed to a referendum. I don't think they are to be absolutely abhorred or to be required. The issue I would care about, frankly, is the institutional stability of whatever framework you put in place. If you're going to change the electoral system, don't do it in a way that merely invites a change back or a change to something else in short order. I just think that's corrosive to the legitimacy of government and it's corrosive to the operation of political parties. The countries that do that, and there are a few, Italy and France being prime examples, I think have paid for that.
I think stability is key. To that end, the referendum could be a contribution to stability in the sense that it has a kind of morally binding force from the population at large. I'd invite you to consider whether some of the purposes of a referendum could be achieved by other means. Part of why a referendum appeals to people is that in some sense it takes if not the final choice out of your hands, then in some sense it raises the costs to you and limits your freedom of action in making the ultimate choice. That could be done by ways other than a referendum—a citizens' assembly, expert group, or whatever.
I have a couple of things in mind. For example, for the politically very fraught task of closing military bases in the U.S., or passing highly divisive trade agreements, the U.S. Congress has a route in which they basically invite outsiders to make the proposal and Congress decides up or down. In a manner of speaking, that's a bit like changing electoral boundaries in this country.
The general point is that to the extent that all politicians, rightly or wrongly, are perceived as in the business of self-dealing and self-interested action, you might want to think about, if you're really serious about change, executing the change in a way in which there is an independent voice that nonetheless has to come back and talk to you.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, committee members, for the opportunity to appear today.
It's an important topic that obviously has major implications for Canada's democracy, and I'm honoured that I'm being asked to share some input with you today.
I do not claim to be an expert on election systems. My professional background, as you've heard from my CV, is in public opinion research. I, and my colleagues at IPSOS, conduct regular scientific surveys of Canadians on a wide variety of topics, including elections at all levels of government. Also, as the CEO of IPSOS Public Affairs worldwide, I'm conducting election surveys all over the world in many of the countries that you're probably interested in or have even studied. We've done a lot of research on all those places and I'd be pleased to entertain any questions you have about how the elections work there.
I should also say that IPSOS is a non-partisan research agency. The work that we do is for the media. We don't work on behalf of parties, and we don't work on behalf of candidates.
It should come as no surprise, then, that in order to prepare for today I conducted a survey for your consideration. I would like to use my time to share the results from the survey with you. I conducted it last week—IPSOS Public Affairs did—online with 1,000 Canadians, the way we typically do a political survey in Canada. We probed the following topics: awareness and interest in the electoral reform consultations process; how major changes to our electoral system should be approved according to Canadians; and whether public engagement and parliamentary review are enough, or whether there need to be a national referendum to settle the issue.
In order to get people kicked off in the correct frame of mind and give them some sense of what we were going to ask about, we read the following preamble to them:
One of the commitments that Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberals made during last October's federal election was that, if elected, they would make fundamental changes to Canada's election system. These changes could involve everything from replacing the first-past-the-post system, requiring mandatory voting and online voting. We'd like to ask you a few questions on these issues.
In other words, we reminded people that this wasn't just something that came out of the blue. It was something that the now-governing party had run on, and that there was a committee that was actually reviewing these specific topics. I took part of the question from the mandate that you're currently undertaking—at least what I received in terms of what was being studied.
The first question was: “Has the federal government started a process of public and parliamentary consultations on proposed changes to our election system?” In other words, who's watching us today?
Some 19% of Canadians said yes; 21% said no; 60% said they didn't know. In other words, a combined 81% thought consultations hadn't started yet, or were unsure. Only about one in five said that they believed this had happened, that something was going on.
Then what we did was we followed up with that 19% who said, hey, I know this is going on, and we asked them a question that you would ask them, which was: how closely are you following the consultations?
Of those who were aware that it's actually happening, 16%, or 30 people in 1,000, said that they were following the consultations very closely. Another 68%, or 129 people, said, a bit here and there, and 16%, or 31 of the people who we interviewed, said, not at all. Those most likely to be following the process were older, more educated, more affluent, men.
Therefore, the audience closely following this process today is about 3% of Canadians, and it's an elite group. In my experience, this shouldn't be a surprise. While major electoral reform impacts everyone, people are busy and are living their day-to-day lives—look at the time of year that we're in right now—and it's very tough to get their attention on these types of public issues. When they do pay attention to anything that's happening in Ottawa, it's to issues that are much higher priority to them personally, such as health care, jobs, and the economy. This is a consistent finding in any survey about Canada's national agenda, regardless of who takes it.
Next, we asked about consultations versus a national referendum. I used a question that another firm had asked, because it had shown that there was some division on this point, and I thought it was a good question. So I asked that question: “Some people say that any change to the electoral system is so fundamental that it would require a national referendum. Others say that a rigorous program of public engagement and parliamentary review should be sufficient. Which statement is closest to your point of view?”
Some 49% said a referendum was necessary; 51% said consultations should be enough.
Then I followed with a similar question, but I reminded people that consultations were actually taking place: “In your view, is the process of public engagement and parliamentary review now being undertaken by the federal government sufficient to give them public consent to fundamentally change our federal election system without a national referendum, or, do you want them to seek public consent for the changes they come up with through a national referendum?”
To this question, “consultations are sufficient” dropped by six percentage points to 45%, and “national referendum” increased by six percentage points to 55%. What this suggests to me is that the more people know about this, the more they actually want to have a direct say themselves.
A majority in every demographic category we looked at supported a referendum—by gender, age, education level, income, and whether or not you had kids in your house. A majority of the people who had kids in their house—or didn't have kids in their house—also supported having a referendum. The single exception to this was the province of Quebec, where only 47% supported a national referendum. I guess they have a bit more experience with the process of a referendum than other Canadians do.
To sum up, in spite of the importance of this issue, an elite audience of about 3% of Canadians could be described as engaged with this process at the moment. As a result, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a majority of Canadians across all segments of the population want to be directly consulted on major changes to the electoral system by some form of a national referendum.
Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Chairman.
Except for two brief opening comments, my thoughts will be on process rather than electoral systems, of which you've already heard much. My main addition to the mixed advice of the experts is to make the obvious point that the various electoral systems cannot be considered in the abstract, however elegant they may be.
We are a sprawling and highly urbanized federation with our own makeup and history, and our own political culture.
Also, and this is cautionary, changes to any political system with great complexities and feedback loops will bring unintended consequences sooner or later. For example, on the “sooner” side, in 1952, in my province, the disintegrating Liberal and Conservative coalition introduced a form of the alternative ballot, a scheme that the press claims is the preferred Liberal alternative. The aim was to keep the NDP, then called the CCF, out of power on the theory that the free enterprise voters would make one or the other of the two old parties their first and second choice. Result? Out of nowhere, a Social Credit government ruled B.C. for 20 years. You can't tell how even small changes will play out.
As a second brief example, who would have dreamed that what seemed like small changes to the U.S. primary system many years ago would lead to Donald Trump today?
Unintended consequences lurk in constitutional change, and that's the kind of change I say we're talking about.
Now, to my two main arguments. The first is that the electoral system belongs uniquely to the people, not to politicians, and citizens must be directly involved in any change.
You will probably require a supporting argument for my proposition that Parliament can't act alone, because in the British tradition, Parliament has always been supreme.
In Canada, from the beginning, Parliament and the legislatures faced constraints. Some of them were explicit in the British North America Act and some implied from the preamble's wording, “similar in principle” to the United Kingdom, which imported certain conventions, and so on. The power of Parliament to act was subsequently dramatically constrained, and those of the Supreme Court dramatically extended, by the 1982 constitutional amendments, including but not limited to the charter. In 2007 the same court developed a doctrine further constraining Parliament by incorporating ratified international human rights documents into our law. In 2014 came an even more relevant decision on the Senate.
In the circumstances of today, the law of today, I wish to pose three questions. One, can the Parliament of Canada unilaterally change the electoral system of the House of Commons in law? Two, if such a change were lawful, would it be morally proper? Three, if the answers to the first and second questions are yes, would it be politically wise?
Would such a change be lawful? No one can answer this question, including the government's lawyers, except the Supreme Court, which will certainly be asked if change is proposed. We do have a bit to go by, coming from the Senate reference of 2014. In that decision, the court substantially widened its powers of review of these matters, and I quote:
The Constitution should not be viewed as a mere collection of discrete textual provisions. It has an architecture, a basic structure. By extension, amendments to the Constitution are not confined to textual changes. They include changes to the Constitution’s architecture that modify the meaning of the constitutional text.
No one in this room needs to be told that since 1982 the Supreme Court can do anything it wants to do, especially in cases like this where the notwithstanding clause would not even apply in theory. These words must be taken seriously. What might they mean in this context?
The simplest example is federative in nature. The province of Quebec—and Professor Johnston adverted to this—could well argue that throughout our history, FPTP has contributed mightily to a block vote of MPs from that province, which in turn has enhanced their power in the federation. Any change would affect the architecture of confederation, without question. I'd hate to argue the other side of that case.
A broader argument is that FPTP makes majority governments far more likely, which is an indisputable fact. The alternative vote is, perhaps, an exception. That might also be part of the essential constitutional architecture of the country. It has certainly mattered throughout our history.
The court would look at these things, but it could ignore such reasoning, it seems to me, if sufficiently persuasive third-party support were offered, such as provincial consent in certain numbers or a popular referendum.
Thus I say to the committee, if you want to avoid prolonged litigation on this matter—an unpleasant possibility—you might well be advised to make any proposed change judgment-proof by demonstrating such extra-parliamentary support.
To move to my second question, the propriety of unilateral change, the Canadian state does not belong to Parliament; the beneficial owners are the Canadian people. Elected representatives are in the nature of trustees—respected, very broad powers, but limited.
In our system, almost all our decisions are made by you as representatives, and we do not have a political culture that would make frequent use of referenda either practical, desirable, or popular. Most people have neither the time nor inclination to make the studies and trade-offs that you do on our behalf.
However, this deference has limits. When it comes to the rules of the game, the very basic law of how decisions are made, people want and deserve a voice. I very much respected the words of Mr. Bricker on this when he said that the more they know, they more they want to have a say.
You can be absolutely certain that if electoral reform becomes a likely matter, the people will know a very great deal about it. The Charlottetown accord referendum stands as a very powerful precedent, wherein a solid majority of Canadians rejected virtually the entire Canadian establishment. My province has had a law for 25 years requiring that any constitutional proposal has to pass a referendum test.
I know you've been told by some that constitutional referendums always fail. I'm here to tell you that's not true. New Zealand has been mentioned, but confining our attention only to Canada, just a bit over 10 years ago, a proposed new electoral system in B.C. received the affirmative support of almost 58% of the electorate. The turnout was 61.5%. The measure secured an absolute majority in 77 out of 79 ridings. That referendum passed by any reasonable test, but the provincial government had set a 60% hurdle rate, so a marvellous opportunity for a natural experiment in thoughtful electoral reform was lost.
The fact is, with a good proposal and adequate consultation, constitutional referenda cannot only be won, but in the doing—and this goes again to Richard's point—confer a massive legitimacy not otherwise attainable. Such legitimacy should be the gold standard for any proposed change in basic law.
Central to the B.C. success was the developmental and consultative machinery for the new electoral proposal. The Government of British Columbia, in common with Ontario and P.E.I. in similar circumstances, accepted that the electoral system was owned by the people and that change should be developed and affirmed by the people. The government therefore mandated a citizens' assembly and gave me the honour of designing the machinery. Through the efforts of the chair, the staff, and its members, it worked supremely well.
The bottom line is that at the end of the day the people believed in it because it was credible and empowered. I am convinced that with the appropriate changes, a similar process could work on the national level, and I'd be glad to give details if asked.
I now come to my final point. I've argued that unilateral change to our electoral system by Parliament might well not be lawful, and suggested how to make it so. I've argued that it would not be legitimate if unilateral, and have suggested machinery to address that need.
Now let me suggest that you may ignore the first two arguments, but then you will fall prey to a third factor: unilateral change would not be politically wise. You are current practitioners; I'm not. However, I've spent one-third of my working life in politics and another one-third commenting on their doings, so I don't feel backward about giving you a bit of political advice.
If this Parliament, and in particular the governing party, proceeds to enact electoral change without court or citizen validation, it would face a storm of criticism. The attack lines virtually write themselves: “The electoral system belongs to the people, not the politicians”, “Our employees should not hire themselves”, and so on. Were I still in politics, such a debate would be great fun, but I most earnestly counsel you to avoid such a fight for fear of diminishing the already too little trust in our system.
Some on the government benches will say, “But we promised the last election would be the last with FPTP.” So you did. Every party makes unwise promises. Every citizen understands that. The question then becomes, after the election, which are crucial in electoral terms and which are not? This one, I say, is not.
My advice is to report to the House that you were all agreed that after careful committee study, it's more important to take the time to do this right rather than be in a hurry to do it wrong. Trust the people in this. You'll not regret it.
Thank you for your attention.
We are talking about the various voting systems and the advantages and disadvantages of each. No system is perfect.
During the two most recent elections, in 2011 and 2015, the same thing happened, meaning that a party obtained 39% of the votes and 55% of the seats. For four years, these people have the majority in committees and in the House and can impose their viewpoints. This system has some advantages.
In the NDP, we think a mixed member proportional system also has the advantage of allowing stable governments to form most of the time, to have a link with the local elected officials and to produce public policies that have consensus support or broad agreement.
Actually, when the first past the post system completely fails the will of the voters, some take issue with that. That has not happened often at the federal level. In 1979, the Conservative Party was elected as a minority government although the Liberals had obtained more votes.
However, this has happened in Quebec three times within the same system, in 1944, 1966 and 1998. In those cases, the majority of voters had chosen a party, but because of the system's inherent distortion, another party formed the government. I personally said that it was unacceptable. Professor Massicotte told us recently that it was awful that something like that happened.
Mr. Johnston, don't you think that these historic examples should encourage us to opt for a system in which the popular will or majority would not be contradicted by the voting system?
Since the beginning of the work of this committee, we have been saying we are open to a change, but not any change and not at any cost. It is not sufficient for us to be in favour of the change so that suddenly an aura of virtue appears above our heads.
Mr. Johnston, you rightly explained that this entire debate was over-determined by partisanship. That is why we think it is important to move beyond parties. It is not a debate between politicians, experts or insiders. We have to follow a process that, I hope, will allow us to reach consensus by December 1 and to give the public the possibility to reclaim this debate. To do so, we think we need to take a stand on holding a referendum right now. No system is perfect. If no system is perfect, the pros and cons of the various systems need to be weighed. If that assessment is left up to politicians, we will not come to an agreement.
It would be unfortunate if, on December 1, three trends emerged, we made no decision and we put everything on the shelf. If we want real change, let's not allow ourselves to be restricted by the deadlines of a prime minister who was perhaps too enthusiastic during the election campaign. Let's do this right.
I don't think I'm contradicting what you are saying, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Johnston and, I assume, Mr. Bricker. Given that only 3% of people know what we are trying to do, if this debate is left strictly in the hands of parliamentarians, it will be difficult to achieve the desired legitimacy.
Mr. Gibson, you said that this debate could not be done in an abstract way. Actually, the details are the problem. It is not enough to say that we want a mixed member proportional voting system to ensure that the model does not have a partisan bias. We have seen this in Quebec. The model chosen by the Charest government created 26 regions. Rather than encouraging ideological plurality, it strictly favoured the three parties already represented in the National Assembly.
Given that the details are posing the problems, what are you suggesting that we do about it? My suggestion is to hold a referendum at the same time as the election in 2019. At any rate, we have no time to do it before that. However, if we proceed as I'm suggesting, we will have the time to go to a second phase. This could be a draft bill on a specific model. We could then consult the people on something tangible.
We will consult the people now on their desire for change, but we have nothing specific to suggest. If the details are the problem, I am wondering how they will be able to have an idea of all the systems on which we will consult them. Could you comment on that?
Mr. Chair, I know it's long, but our way of operating—
I have something to say about it, which might result in an amendment. Let me address it first, and then we'll see if an amendment is appropriate, or if it could be dealt with informally.
It's just this. We all know this came up because the minister held a town hall in Nunavut, and there was no Inuktitut translation. Concerns were raised about that. Not being an expert in the Inuktitut language, out of curiosity I looked it up, and discovered that Nunavut has two official languages in addition to English and French: Inuktitut and another language called—and forgive me, as I may not pronounce this correctly—Inuinnaqtun, which is the language of the Kitikmeot region. The Kitikmeot region, if you have a mental image of Nunavut, is the western part of Nunavut. It's an area that sometimes feels left out of Nunavut politics. If you read the Wikipedia article on it, you'll learn why. It's physically separated. It's in a different time zone and also has a different language. To get from there to Iqaluit, you have to leave the territory and fly south. It costs about $2,000 to go one way according to Wikipedia. I haven't checked this out myself.
You can see the point that if we're trying to be inclusive, then it's important to do this. Some people say it's a dialect. Some say it's another language. This is a debate for linguists, but I wanted to mention that.
We'd probably support that.
The second thing I want to mention is that if you look at it, Inuktitut is the aboriginal language in Canada that has the largest number, by far, of monophones, or monolingual people who speak only one language, and neither English or French. That includes people in Nunavut. There's also a large Inuktitut-speaking population in Nunavik, which is the northern part of Quebec. Realistically, most of the models of electoral reform that we're looking at are not going to affect Nunavut. There will not be, for example, STV or MMP in Nunavut, no matter how much we would like to introduce it at the federal level, because there's only one seat for the territory. While it's worthwhile hearing what people who live in Nunavut have to say on the subject, it is worth remembering that this will affect them a good deal less than the people who live in Nunavik, who are not a small population. The number of Inuit people there, based on the reading I was doing on this, is about one-third of the population of Nunavut. These people who will be affected by changes, and who might be affected by changes that result in either multi-member districts or increases to...their district is already enormous. Possible larger increases would be very relevant to them.
I'm suggesting that we try to find some way of informing Inuktitut speakers, who do not reside in Nunavut itself, to participate in this particular meeting. I think it will prove profitable to them. Surely—