Electoral reform poll
Date: Wednesday, January 10 2007
Gov't to spend almost $1M on electoral reform poll
Updated Tue. Jan. 9 2007 5:35 PM ET
OTTAWA -- Canadians will be given a chance this spring to weigh in on the latest floor-crossing MP or any other matter relating to the country's democratic peculiarities.
No, a federal election has not yet been called.
The Conservative government indicated Tuesday it wants to begin public consultations by March 9 on "the challenges facing Canada's electoral system and democratic institutions'' and have a draft report completed before the end of May.
The timeline is laid out in a $500,000 tender for services posted on a contract website. The entire project, including all expenses, is not to exceed $900,000.
Federal officials did not respond to questions about whether the report will be made public.
The tender calls for a private think-tank to join forces with a polling firm to canvass a cross-section of Canadians on five specific topics:
• "political parties (e.g., their role in policy development);''
• "the electoral system (e.g., particular characteristics that are important for citizens, such as the link between elected representatives and a particular geographical area);''
• "the House of Commons (e.g., decorum);''
• "the Senate (e.g., the role it should play and the powers it should possess); and''
• "the role of the citizen (e.g., civic engagement)''
While the tender does not specifically mention the hot-button topic of floor-crossing -- highlighted last week by the defection of former Liberal MP Wajid Khan to the Conservatives -- the project is open-ended.
"Participants will also have the opportunity to signal other issues of concern to them in relation to renewing Canada's democratic institutions and practices,'' says the tender.
Peter Van Loan, the government House leader and minister responsible for democratic reform, said by e-mail Tuesday that day-long citizens' forums will be held in each province and territory, plus an additional forum for youth -- making 12 in all.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 10, 2006]