Learn About
Proportional Representation and
Citizens' Assemblies

What is proportional representation?

The principle that the number of seats in a legislature should equal the percentage of votes that a party receives in an election:

  • 20% of the popular vote = 20% of the seats.

  • 40% of the popular vote = 40% of the seats.

Sounds pretty straightforward? It is! Most democracies in the world have proportional representation in their legislative assemblies.

Canada is one of a small number of countries using the First-Past-the-Post system which was originally implemented knowing that it would concentrate governing power in a two party system.

Why is proportional representation important?

  • Because our current electoral system routinely gives 100% of governing power to parties with much less than 50% of the votes. These are False Majority governments.

  • Because false majority governments that enact laws without opposition support risk the democratic legitimacy of our system. This feeds ad rewards political polarization.

  • Because our current electoral system is arguably not constitutional. We do not have a representative democracy. Many electors' votes count for nothing. Learn more about the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting here.

What is a citizens' assembly?

  • A citizens’ assembly is a random and representative body of citizens formed to deliberate on an important publi policy issue.

  • Citizens’ assemblies are built on the belief that when given the knowledge, resources and time, citizens can find consensus solutions to complex and challenging issues, including those where politicians have reached an impasse.

  • Citizens’ assemblies empower citizens to develop in-depth understanding of an issue and to submit their recommendations free of partisan interference and considerations.

  • Recommendations emerging from such a process are likely to be seen as highly legitimate expressions of the popular will.

  • 80% of Canadians – supporters of all parties – back the idea of National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

  • Learn more about citizens' assemblies here.

Why are Citizens' Assemblies important for electoral reform?

  • Because political parties are in a conflict of interest implementing electoral reform. For over a century federal and provincial parties have promoted electoral reform and proportional representation when in opposition, only to renege or undermine reform when in power.

  • Because citizen's assemblies provide meaningful and representative deliberation, free from partisan interests.

  • Because a citizen's assembly bult public trust and consensus.