Electoral Reform Roundtables
Our office team and I work hard to ensure that we are consulting you, our constituents, on a regular basis. One of the ways that we do this is through constituent roundtables. When constituents write to our office to express an opinion about an issue, they will often receive a subsequent invitation to attend a roundtable discussion about that issue. This gives a group of people interested in a topic an opportunity to bounce ideas off each other; and it gives me an opportunity to learn from them.
The government has asked MPs to be involved in consultations around possible changes to our electoral system. Our office is going to be undertaking consultations on this in mid-September. As mentioned, our office conducts regular consultations on a wide range of subjects, and this one is no different. We have developed a format that works very well, and we are happy to apply it in this case.
I have a few problems, though, with aspects of the electoral reform consultation process recommended by the government.
First of all, a consultation process where you have a pre-determined outcome is not a real consultation. If you are going to meaningfully consult people, then you need to start with an open mind. But the government has already said that it intends to replace the existing electoral system. And, they have been decidedly cold to our proposal to consult Canadians directly through a referendum.
Having a pre-determined outcome and refusing to go to Canadians through a referendum is not a meaningful way of conducting consultations on an issue this important.
Roundtables and town hall meetings can be a first step, but they are bound to only engage a relatively small number of people.
Also, we have found that it was much more difficult to get people to come to roundtables during the summer. Thus, we intentionally waited until September for electoral reform roundtables. Unfortunately, the tight timeline for roundtables forced many MPs to only do events in July or August.
For our local consultations on electoral reform, we will be starting with a completely blank slate — no assumptions, no pre-conditions — just questions for participants.
We will be holding a series of individual roundtables throughout the day on Sept. 10.
These are open to constituents only. Each roundtable will last one hour and will be capped at 12 participants — and we are committed to hold enough roundtables throughout the day so that everyone who wants to participate is able to.
As with all our roundtables, advanced registration is required. We don’t want people to show up for a roundtable and then find out that it’s full.
Please call our office at 780-467-4944 to register and/or be added to our general roundtable invite list.
Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-467-4944. His office is located in the Park Place Professional Centre, Unit No. 214. Genuis was first elected in October 2015.
Published: Thursday, August 25, 2016