Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I guess I'd just like to have the opportunity to respond to some of the debate on the main motion.
First of all, I understand the skepticism about Liberal governments very well, having watched the process unfold in the last Parliament, but the question for people who sincerely want to see voting reform is this: How do we keep the conversation alive, how do we keep it going and how do we reach out to people who obviously have very different political interests and different points of view, in order to try to keep pushing this process forward until it succeeds?
As somebody who is personally very committed to seeing Canada adopt a different electoral system than the first-past-the-post system that we have, which I don't think is serving the country well, I respect that there are different points of view on that, but my point of view is that this voting system is not serving the country well and I would like to see it change. That means continuing to have conversations in Parliament, first of all, and in civil society generally and, hopefully, with some new mechanisms in order to bring more people on board to help understand some of the shortcomings of the current system we have and some of the real potential and opportunities that exist in other systems.
We had a process last Parliament. It didn't work. From the point of view of people who want to see genuine voting reform in Canada, it didn't work, so the question is, instead of just trying to do the same thing over again, how do we try to get to somewhere different?
I note that this motion is largely untouched, except for the amendment that we passed for the Conservatives, which just draws attention to the fact that talking about whether or not to have a referendum is an important component of any conversation about electoral reform. It still requires a separate report on the issue of electoral reform.
That report will be mandated to include terms of reference, what the composition of an assembly should look like, a timeline for completion, public reporting requirements for the assembly and speaking to the question of resources for the assembly, including how to support citizen engagement and not just necessarily the people who are in the assembly itself. It gives the committee latitude to ask if there's something left out in the course of their study, and when they hear from experts [Technical difficulty—Editor] to that report. It has to be filed separately. Even if the committee decides that it's not worth going forward with a national citizens' assembly, at least a report is still required so that there's a determinate end to that study and we know definitively what the opinion of the committee is after having looked at that.
All of that stays the same. All of that is intact. That's a process that I would like to see happen. To then say in addition to that, okay, well let's also take some of the learnings that has happened in the course of that study about how citizen assemblies may or may not be used.... I take some of Mr. Nater's point. I'm certainly an advocate for parliamentary reform. Just this morning, I tabled a private member's bill to try to curtail some of the immense prerogative that the Prime Minister has around prorogation. I have a motion on the Order Paper around the dissolution of Parliament as well, and I'm on this committee in part because of my own interest in all things having to do with parliamentary process.
It may be that the committee says there's no value in citizens' assemblies. I would be surprised at that because, as Ms. Petitpas Taylor pointed out earlier, they're being used to great effect in other places, and I don't think that we as elected people.... Simply because we're elected doesn't mean that there aren't other ways of expressing the voice of Canadian citizens in the policy-making process. We are one. We are an important one. Obviously, Parliament is very important, but it doesn't always work very well. I think that anyone who is being honest can see—in fact, there's some evidence of it even in today's meeting—that partisan interests can derail otherwise good policy discussion. We've certainly seen that in this Parliament in all sorts of ways. I'll spare you all the examples.
The question isn't whether we can agree on everything all the time and everybody is going to sing Kumbaya and love each other at the end of the meeting. The question is, can we leave this meeting having taken a concrete step forward towards trying to get back on track in a process that, yes, some may stall and delay? Although I hope not: I hope everybody is acting in good faith. But if I just assume that everybody is acting in bad faith all the time, we won't make any progress at all either.
So, I'm glad to see that we were able to incorporate an amendment from the Conservative Party into this motion. I'm glad for the proposal by Mr. Turnbull, and I'm happy to support it. At the end of it, we will have an NDP motion with a Conservative amendment and a Liberal amendment pass that allows us to restart a process that was broken in the last Parliament when the government rejected all of the findings, to try and get us back on track towards getting to where we can get out of the first-past-the-post system, a system that—as I said last meeting—is, I think, in no small part responsible for all of the speculation around an election. If the Prime Minister does want an election this summer—and there are a lot of signs that suggest that he does, although I think he would be wrong to call one—it will be because the first-past-the-post system promises him a majority in these circumstances with about 40% in the polls instead of 35%. If that is incentivizing a prime minister to call an election during a pandemic, something is clearly broken, and it's clearly not serving the interests of Canadians well.
There is need for further discussion on that, and there are lessons out of this Parliament and out of the pandemic for how we vote, how we select parliaments and, indeed, how we select governments.
I'm pleased with today's conversation. I want to thank everybody. Despite a little bit of needling, which is par for the course here in Parliament, I think that, overall, we've had a very productive conversation. The motion, ultimately, will be better for it, and I hope that Canadians agree. I hope that Canadians who want to see a change in the voting system will agree. I think that if all parties engage in good faith in the process and the study that's laid out in this motion, we can hope to make some progress. We'll only know at the end of that process whether people engaged in good faith, and Canadians will be able to evaluate for themselves who they think best represented their interest in changing the voting system. However, we'll leave that decision to Canadians. The decision before us today is to embark on this study, and I look forward to making that decision.