Green Leader Elizabeth May promises electoral reform, lowering voting age to 16

VANCOUVER — Green Leader Elizabeth May said Sunday that if her party is elected Monday, it will be the last federal government in Canada chosen by the first-past-the-post system.

May spent much of the last day of the federal election campaign in Vancouver, dealing with weighty subjects: besides pledging electoral reform, she spoke at a rally in the city's Downtown Eastside calling for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women.

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But her plans to go finish up in southern Vancouver Island, believed to hold the Greens' best hope to boost their standing in the House of Commons from the two seats they had at the election call in September, were frustrated by bad weather that indefinitely delayed her flight.

Besides May's own seat of Saanich-Gulf Islands, the Greens picked up Nanaimo-Ladysmith from the New Democrats in a byelection earlier this year. May had been going to campaign with three Green candidates in and around Victoria.

May said a Green government would launch a citizens' assembly with a mandate to make recommendations to Parliament on a new electoral system based on proportional representation.

"Canada is among the very last free and prosperous countries in the world still using the outdated first-past-the-post voting system," May said in a statement. "We need to change immediately to proportional representation, a system that translates all votes into representation in Parliament and doesn't classify more than half the electorate as losers unworthy of representation."

The Greens also say they will lower the voting age to 16.

"It flies in the face of fairness that 16- and 17-year-olds are old enough to work and pay taxes but are not allowed to vote for the government that spends that tax revenue," May said.

The Liberals included electoral reform as part of their platform for the 2015 election but dropped the idea once they were in power.

May also said a Green government would have Elections Canada develop a framework to fight dishonest campaign advertising, claiming that "current political parties seem to be able to lie with impunity."

That comment came after the Green party issued a release Saturday claiming it had contacted former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page to clear up what it called "NDP misinformation."

According to the release, the NDP distributed a flyer throughout Vancouver Island saying the Greens' platform budget had failed a review by Page.

However, Page said in the release that the Green platform received an overall passing grade on a fiscal assessment from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy, which he leads, at the University of Ottawa. He said the same grade was given to the Conservatives and the NDP.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2019.

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