|Part of the Politics series|
|Specifics of referendums|
National referendums are seldom used in Canada. The first two referendums in 1898 and 1942 saw voters in Quebec and the remainder of Canada take dramatically-opposing stands, and the third in 1992 saw most of the voters take a stand dramatically opposed to that of the politicians in power.
|Jurisdiction||For Prohibition||Percent For||Against Prohibition||Percent Against|
|Alberta and Saskatchewan||6,238||68.8||2,824||31.2|
|Prince Edward Island||9,461||89.2||1,146||10.8|
The majority in favour of Prohibition was so slight and turn-out so low that the government did not think it right to adopt the measure.
|Canadian conscription plebiscite, 1942|
|Prince Edward Island||23,568||82.9||4,869||17.1|
|Total civilian vote||2,670,088||63.3||1,547,724||36.7|
Based on the result, the government adopted conscription but with a light touch, adopting the initial policy that those conscripted would not be sent overseas to active fighting.
|Jurisdiction||Voted Yes||Percent Yes||Voted No||Percent No|
|Prince Edward Island||48,687||74.0||17,124||26.0|
During the 2004 federal election, the NDP stated that it would require the federal government to hold a national referendum on electoral reform (specifically proportional representation) for support from the NDP should the Liberals win a minority government. The Liberals won a minority, and the NDP announced they would press for electoral reform through a referendum. The possibility of a national referendum on electoral reform was made more likely through the Throne speech that opened Parliament in October 2004, in which former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin included electoral reform in his plan for the next Parliament. However, after Conservative Leader Stephen Harper became Prime Minister as a result of the 2006 federal election, no moves toward reform of the electoral system were taken until Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister after the 2015 federal election, in which Trudeau promised to eliminate the current "first-past-the-post" single-member plurality voting system. While Trudeau has said that he advocates a system where the distribution of seats is more in line with the popular vote on a Canada-wide basis, to be achieved by a new type of ballot that allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference, his government announced in December 2015 that an all-party parliamentary committee would be formed in early 2016 to consider other options too, such as those based on proportional representation. During a discussion of the plan, Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef referred to it as “an open and robust process of consultation”. However, she refused to commit to the Conservative Party's demand for a public referendum that would allow Canadians to vote on their preferred electoral system, indicating that she does not want to "prejudice the outcome of that consultation process".
There had been discussion regarding a national referendum over the issue of same-sex marriage, which was a highly divisive issue in Canada. A national plebiscite had been suggested by Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and some Conservatives and Liberal backbenchers. However, Paul Martin's Liberal government, with the support of the NDP and Bloc Québécois, passed the Civil Marriage Act , legalizing same-sex marriage through Parliament in July 2005 without holding a plebiscite. In December 2006, Stephen Harper's government introduced a motion to re-open the marriage debate, which lost. Notably, members of all parties, including some Conservative cabinet members, voted it down.
Alberta has held several referendums during its history.
Three concerned the adoption, retention and abandonment of Prohibition on the private sale of liquor (1915, 1920 and 1923).
Another was on the government take-over of the electrical generation and distribution system, at the time a mixed system of municipal and private corporate ownership, and the preferred method of rural electrification - private or provincial government.
(They are listed in the Wikipedia Alberta Elections page.)
In British Columbia, a Treaty Referendum was held on First Nations treaty rights in 2002. The referendum proposed eight questions that voters were asked to either support or oppose. Critics claimed the phrasing was flawed or biased toward a predetermined response. Critics, especially First Nations and religious groups, called for a boycott of the referendum, and only about one third of ballots were returned, significantly less than the usual turnout in provincial general elections. The ballots that were returned showed enthusiastic support, with over 80 per cent of participating voters agreeing to all eight proposed principles.
A referendum on electoral reform on May 17, 2005, was held in conjunction with the provincial election that year. British Columbian voters were asked to approve a new electoral system based on the Single Transferable Vote called BC STV. It passed with the support of a majority of voters (57%), but failed to meet the required "supermajority" threshold of 60%. Premier Gordon Campbell announced due to the large support shown for electoral reform a second referendum would be held in correspondence with the 2009 British Columbia general election. This referendum would also have required approval by 60% of those voting.
The second referendum was held on May 12, 2009, in conjunction with the provincial election. The results were a "supermajority" of 60.92% voting for retaining the current "first past the post" electoral system and 39.8% voting for the proposed Single Transferable Vote.
A mail-in referendum was held from June 13 to August 5, 2011, on the fate of the province's harmonized sales tax. The government pledged to discontinue the tax if more than 50% of the voters opt to have the tax discontinued. It was passed, with 55% in favour.
The province held another referendum on proportional representation in late 2018. With 42% turnout, proportional representation was defeated by 61% of the vote.
Manitoba held a referendum on Prohibition in 1902. A majority voted against prohibition.
The island of Newfoundland, then a British colony, held two referendums in 1948 to determine its future. An initial referendum was held on June 3, 1948, to decide between continuing with the British appointed Commission of Government that had ruled the island since the 1930s, revert to dominion status with responsible government, or join Canadian Confederation. The result was inconclusive, with 44.6% supporting the restoration of dominion status, 41.1% for confederation with Canada, and 14.3% for continuing the Commission of Government. A second referendum on July 22, 1948, which asked Newfoundlanders to choose between confederation and dominion status, was decided by a vote of 52% to 48% for confederation with Canada. Newfoundland joined Canada on March 31, 1949.
A referendum was held in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1995 that approved replacing the province's system of parochial schools with a largely public school system. In 1997, a second referendum to amend the Terms of Union to allow for the Catholic and Pentecostal school systems to be disbanded and brought into the public system.
On May 14, 2001, New Brunswick held a referendum on whether to continue to permit Video Lottery Terminals to operate in the province. 53.1% of those who voted in favour of retaining the terminals.
In 2004, Nova Scotia held a plebiscite on whether to allow 'Sunday shopping'. The result was a slight victory for the No side although the government went ahead and legalized Sunday Shopping the following year after a court decision overturned the law.
On October 10, 2007, Ontario held a referendum on whether to adopt a mixed-member proportional system of elections. The proposed system failed with 63% voting for the status quo in favour of First-Past-the-Post. See 2007 Ontario electoral reform referendum for more information. This was the first referendum in that province since 1924 when a referendum on prohibition was held.
The small province of Prince Edward Island (under 150,000 people and therefore in scale more like a municipal government) has had several referendums in its past, although the correct terminology in the province is a plebiscite. On January 18, 1988, a provincial plebiscite was held to determine if Islanders were in favour of a fixed link to the mainland. It passed 60% to 40%. This allowed the provincial and federal governments to attract contractors to build what is now the Confederation Bridge. On November 28, 2005, Islanders were asked to vote by plebiscite whether or not they wanted mixed-member proportional representation - partly "party list-based" - electoral system. Islanders decided, 64% to 36%, to keep the status quo first-past-the-post based electoral. Another plebiscite was held in 2016 concerning mixed-member proportional representation, with the result of 52% of Islanders voting to adopt the changes. Citing low voter turn out (below 40%) in the plebiscite, the government refused to implement the reforms. Another PEI plebiscite on electoral reform is scheduled for 2019.
Three referendums were held in Quebec:
Officially though, there have been four, as the 1992 pan-Canadian referendum was organized by the DGEQ in Quebec, whereas Elections Canada organized it in the rest of Canada.
Two referendums were held in Yukon.
Two referendums were held in Northwest Territories.
Plurality voting is an electoral system in which each voter is allowed to vote for only one candidate, and the candidate who polls more than any other counterpart is elected. In a system based on single-member districts, it may be called first-past-the-post (FPTP), single-choice voting, simple plurality or relative/simple majority. In a system based on multi-member districts, it may be referred to as winner-takes-all or bloc voting.
Mixed-member proportional representation is a mixed electoral system in which voters get two votes: one to decide the representative for their single-seat constituency, and one for a political party. Seats in the legislature are filled first by the successful constituency candidates, and second, by party candidates based on the percentage of nationwide or region-wide votes that each party received. The constituency representatives are elected using first-past-the-post voting (FPTP) or another plurality/majoritarian system. The nationwide or region-wide party representatives are, in most jurisdictions, drawn from published party lists, similar to party-list proportional representation. To gain a nationwide representative, parties may be required to achieve a minimum number of constituency candidates, a minimum percentage of the nationwide party vote, or both.
Canada holds elections for legislatures or governments in several jurisdictions: for the federal (national) government, provincial and territorial governments, and municipal governments. Elections are also held for self-governing First Nations and for many other public and private organizations including corporations and trade unions. Municipal elections can also be held for both upper-tier and lower-tier governments. Formal elections have occurred in Canada since at least 1792, when both Upper Canada and Lower Canada had their first elections.
The Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform was created by the government of British Columbia, Canada to investigate changes to the provincial electoral system. On 25 October 2004, it proposed replacing the province's existing first past the post (FPTP) system with BC-STV, a single transferable vote (STV) system. This recommendation was put to the electorate-at-large in a referendum held concurrently with the 2005 provincial election. In order for the results to be binding, the referendum required a super-majority including approval by 60% of voters overall and simple majorities in 60% of the 79 districts in order to pass. In the event, the second of these thresholds was easily met, with a majority supporting the reform in 77 out of 79 electoral districts, but the overall vote fell short of the 60% requirement, with 57.7% of the votes in favour.
A referendum was held in the Canadian province of British Columbia on May 17, 2005, to determine whether or not to adopt the recommendation of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform to replace the existing first-past-the-post electoral system (FPTP) with a single transferable vote system (BC-STV). It was held in conjunction with the BC Legislative Assembly election of 2005. Voters were given two ballots at that time: a ballot to vote for a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (MLA) in their constituency and a referendum ballot. The referendum received considerable support from the electorate but failed in meeting the demanding threshold that had been set. A second referendum was held in 2009.
The 1948 Alberta general election was the eleventh general election for the Province of Alberta, Canada. It was held on August 17, 1948, to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.
The Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform was established by the government of the province of Ontario, Canada in March 2006. Modelled on the British Columbia equivalent, it reviewed the first past the post electoral system currently in use to elect members of the Ontario Legislature, with the authority to recommend an alternative. In May 2007, the Assembly recommended, by a decision of 94–8, that Ontario adopt a form of mixed member proportional representation (MMP).
An Ontario electoral reform referendum was held on October 10, 2007, on the question of whether to establish a mixed member proportional representation (MMP) system for elections to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. However, the resulting vote was strongly in favour of the existing plurality voting or "first-past-the-post" (FPTP) system.
BC-STV is the proposed voting system recommended by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform in October 2004 for use in British Columbia, and belongs to the single transferable vote family of voting systems. BC-STV was supported by a majority of the voters in a referendum held in 2005 but the government had legislated that it would not be bound by any vote lower than 60 percent in favour. Because of the strong majority support for BC-STV, the government elected to stage a second referendum in 2009, but with increased public funding for information campaigns to better inform the electorate about the differences between the existing and proposed systems. The leadership of both the "yes" side and the "no" side were assigned by the government. The proposal was rejected with 60.9 percent voting against, vs. 39.1 percent in favour, in the 2009 vote.
The Politics of British Columbia involves not only the governance of British Columbia, Canada, and the various political factions that have held or vied for legislative power, but also a number of experiments or attempts at political and electoral reform.
Following the 2005 electoral reform referendum, British Columbia held a second referendum on electoral reform in conjunction with the provincial election on May 12, 2009. As in 2005, voters in 2009 were asked were asked which electoral system should be used to elect legislators: the existing first-past-the-post electoral system or the BC single transferable vote electoral system (BC-STV) proposed by the British Columbia Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform to ensure more proportional representation in the provincial Legislative Assembly.
The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is governed by a unicameral legislature, the House of Assembly, which operates under the Westminster model of government. The executive function of government is formed by the Lieutenant Governor, the premier and his or her cabinet. The politics of Newfoundland and Labrador is defined by a long history, liberal democratic political institutions and a unique political culture.
A referendum was held in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island on November 28, 2005, to determine whether to adopt the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system as recommended by the Prince Edward Island Electoral Reform Commission in 2003.
Electoral reform is change in electoral systems to improve how public desires are expressed in election results. That can include reforms of:
The 2019 Prince Edward Island general election was held to elect the members of the 66th General Assembly of Prince Edward Island. The vote in 26 of the 27 districts was held on 23 April 2019, while the vote for the member from Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park was deferred to 15 July due to the death of the Green Party's candidate. However, Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park still voted in a referendum on electoral reform. Natalie Jameson won the deferred election in the riding.
The House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) was a special committee of the House of Commons of Canada established during the 42nd Canadian Parliament to investigate reforms to the Canadian electoral system. The formation of "an all-party Parliamentary committee to review... [electoral] reforms" was an election promise by Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau in the 2015 federal election. After becoming Prime Minister, Trudeau indicated the formation of a special committee was a priority in his mandate letter for Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef. Shortly after the committee submitted its report to parliament on December 1, 2016, Monsef was transferred to the position of the Minister of Status of Women and Karina Gould took over the electoral reform file. Shortly after taking her position Gould announced that the government would no longer be pursuing reform of the electoral system, stating "It has become evident that the broad support needed among Canadians for a change of this magnitude does not exist".
The 2016 Plebiscite on Democratic Renewal was a non-binding referendum on electoral reform held in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island between 27 October – 7 November 2016. This was the second electoral reform referendum to be held in Prince Edward Island, following a vote to maintain the status quo in 2005. The referendum asked which of five voting systems residents would prefer to use in electing members to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. The referendum involved four instant run-off counts and indicated mixed member proportional representation was the majority choice with 55.03% support on the final ballot, with support of 52.42% of votes cast.
Mississauga—Lakeshore is a provincial electoral district in Ontario, Canada. It elects one member to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This riding was formerly known as Mississauga South prior to 2015.
A referendum on electoral reform took place by mail-in ballot between October 22 and December 7, 2018, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. 61.3 percent of British Columbians voted in favour of maintaining the first-past-the-post voting system rather than switching to a proportional representation voting system, which was supported by 38.7 percent of voters.
A referendum on electoral reform was held on April 23, 2019 in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island – simultaneously with the 2019 provincial election – to determine if the province should adopt a mixed-member proportional representation voting system (MMP). A narrow majority voted to keep the existing first-past-the-post system. However, the referendum was not binding, as neither the yes or no side received majority support in 60% or more of the province's 27 electoral districts.