CCL Canada Education: Electoral Reform and the Climate Crisis with Bruce Hyer

CCL Canada Education: Electoral Reform and the Climate Crisis with Bruce Hyer






Two important policies are making their way through the Canadian Parliament this fall: carbon pricing and electoral reform. Many Canadian CCLers are also concerned about electoral reform. They hope for a more cooperative and less adversarial parliament and thus more action on the climate crisis. How can electoral reform help? First past the post, proportional representation and ranked ballots are three main ways to elect representatives. On the September 2016 CCL Canada education call, we learned which model might be best for democracy and the climate.

Bruce Hyer is the former MP for Thunder Bay – Superior North, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada and board member of Fair Vote Canada. His vast knowledge and experiences in Parliament were intertwined into an evidence-based presentation on electoral reform. Starting in early 2011 we began lobbying him in earnest for carbon fee and dividend. In the 41st Canadian Parliament Bruce Hyer championed carbon fee and dividend many times in the House of Commons.

Listen to the CCL Canada Education call, find more resources and discover for yourself how the way we elect our representatives might have an impact on cooperation between parties and the strength of climate policies:


Here are the accompanying PowerPoints in pdf:

Please contact Bruce Hyer if you have any questions:

What do the following terms mean: First past the post,  Ranked ballots, Proportional Representation,  Mixed Member Proportional Representation? Which countries in the world still use First Past the Post? Proportional representation (PR) vs First Past the Post – Is one better system better for the environment? What data supports that claim? Does PR make governments more cooperative? Which countries have failed at PR and why? Should there be a referendum? These are just some of the questions that were answered. And we learned about Dual Member Proportional representation too.

Here is the reference from Andy Blair regarding evidence of countries with proportional representation vs winner-take-all systems and their track records on carbon pricing. It is by Professor Lijphart at the University of California and he studied 38 OECD countries. The book is called Patterns of Democracy by Arend Lijphart.

Here are some important terms:

  • FIRST PAST THE POST: the winner takes all regardless of what percentage of the votes she or he gets. Canada, USA and Britain use this system.
  • RANKED BALLOTS: describes certain voting systems in which voters rank outcomes in a hierarchy on the ordinal scale. Ranked ballots is not a form of proportional representation. Australia uses Ranked Ballots for their lower house: 25% of their MP’s are women.
  • PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION: an electoral system in which parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them. Most of the European union uses some form of proportional representation. Australia’s senators are elected by single transferable vote – which is a type of proportional representation and 42% of their senators are women.
  • MIXED MEMBER PROPORATION (MMPR): It is a hybrid of our current FPTP and Proportional Representation. You get two votes: you still vote for your local MP using the FPTP system and then you also vote for a regional MP by voting for the political party and they select the representative. Germany and New Zealand both have MMPR. 32% of MPs in New Zealand are women. Germany’s PM is Angela Merkel, one of the most powerful women in the world.

Want to take action?

  1. Explore Fair Vote Canada’s website.
  2. Sign the Declaration of Voter’s Rights at Fair Vote Canada.
  3. Contact your MP and tell her/him that you support electoral reform. Find your MP using your postal code. Look in the middle right hand side of the page.
  4. Attend the Electoral Reform town halls in your community. A full list can be found here:

REMINDER: CCL’s focus will remain on carbon pricing and ending subsidies to fossil fuels as it has for most of the six years we have been in Canada. However, everything is connected. Stepping back occasionally and looking at the big picture is important. Like for other issues such as oil pipelines, nuclear energy, carbon sinking, guaranteed minimum income and veganism, CCL will not take a position on electoral reform.  As well, all of our talking points are found in our Laser Talks and Media Releases.