The Honourable Karina Gould, PC, MP
Minister for Democratic Institutions
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON

Dear Minister Gould,

Congratulations on your appointment as Minister for Democratic Institutions. On behalf of the 643,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) we look forward to working with you in your new role.

Your portfolio is critical given the promises made by Prime Minister Trudeau during the last electoral campaign that “2015 will be last first-past-the-post election.”

In 2015, Canadians elected a majority of MPs from parties openly supportive of electoral reform – that was a good indication there was indeed a clear preference for electoral reform. Your government saw that and, as you know, appointed a special parliamentary committee to study the matter; together with in-person and online consultations held by MPs and the former minister, this was one of the most ambitious public consultations in recent memory.

CUPE supports proportional representation, and our members were among the thousands of Canadians who attended town hall meetings held by their MPs, who participated in your predecessor’s consultation, and otherwise participated in government consultations on electoral reform. We were also one of the thousands of individuals and organizations that made submissions to the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) recommending the adoption of Mixed Member Proportional Representation in time for the 2019 federal election.

We are extremely disappointed that your government has now abandoned its promise to reform our electoral system. And frankly, we don’t understand it.

In your mandate letter, the Prime Minister writes “If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country – from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change – Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen.”

Your government went through a significant listening exercise. In every way that they have been consulted, Canadians have made clear their preference for a system of proportional representation.

By abandoning your election promises to pursue electoral reform, the Government only deepens public cynicism about electoral politics altogether.

Minister, we know you have been placed in a difficult position. We recognize it was not your decision to drop electoral reform from the government’s agenda.

We encourage you to listen to the many organizations and individuals who so vehemently disagree with this decision, and use your role as Minister responsible for our precious democracy to advocate within cabinet to reconsider. And we would be pleased to offer our assistance and support in this endeavour.

Sincerely

Mark Hancock
National President, CUPE

Cc       Scott Reid, Conservative critic, Democratic Institutions

            Nathan Cullen, NDP critic, Democratic Institutions

            Luc Theriault, Bloc Quebecois critic, Democratic Institutions

            Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada