A Green Party MLA who wanted the design of a proportional representation voting system in Prince Edward Island to be placed in the hands of Islanders has his wish.
Stephen Howard, MLA for Summerside-South Drive, made a motion in legislature to have a citizens' assembly brainstorm ideas for proportional representation voting. The motion passed 13-11 on Thursday.
When done, the assembly will report back to the legislature on a detailed design for an electoral system tailored to P.E.I.'s needs.
The assembly will "take the politics out" of decision-making, Howard said.
"Sometimes legislatures all over the world come to a standstill on particularly contentious issues," Howard said. "Citizen assemblies have been used as a tool to overcome the partisan politics that might muddy the waters."
The citizens' assembly will consist of 27 people from a diverse age group, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and gender.
"They would sit on this citizens' assembly, be given resources to call in experts and without any politics in it whatsoever, try to come up with the best design of an electoral system based on proportional representation," Howard said.
Howard said he was surprised to receive support from other parties.
"I was surprised to see support come from some ministers on the government side and some members from the Liberal opposition as well."
Electoral reform needed on P.E.I.
Howard is pleased electoral reform on P.E.I. is once more a topic in the legislature.
"I think it was great to get electoral reform back onto the floor of the legislature, even if it is just to take care of perhaps a step that should have been taken care of previously," he said.
The premier is responsible for the next steps to create the citizens' assembly, Howard said.
"I have a feeling that Premier Dennis King is on the record saying that he's in favour of proportional representation, so I think he'll be excited with this as well."
Proportional representation is important because it limits partisan politics in the leadership of the province, Howard said.