MoVE is just one of several organizations committed to voter equality in Canada, the oldest of which is Fair Voting BC and the largest of which is Fair Vote Canada, the only membership based national voting reform group. In addition, there are a number of multi-issue organizations like LeadNow that also campaign for voter equality.
Our organization maintains a collegial and cooperative relationship with these and other groups. No one organization and no one strategy can be relied-upon to deliver Canadian citizens the political equality our Charter of Rights and Freedoms promises. We support many of our allies projects like Fair Vote Canada’s “Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election.”
Working with our partners and allies, we have designed MoVE to work in areas that are more difficult for other voting reform groups.
Institute/Think Tank Work
MoVE has recruited one of Canada’s premier social science health researchers, Amy Salmon, to our board as part of our drive to build bridges with the academic community and supplement the important work of activist scholars in the political science field, like Denis Pilon and Henry Milner, with a broader sociological approach to scholarship competence in obtaining and administering academic grants.
As the five government referenda on voter equality since 1996 have shown, the strongest supporters and earliest adopters of equal voting have been residents of Canada’s major cities. And in Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal, failing voting systems are facing increased citizen activism, political opposition and review by local and provincial governments. We have chosen to focus our efforts on winning reform at the civic level first.
The last time voter equality was defined by the courts, in 1988 and 1989, it was because of successful court challenges of electoral boundaries. And, since 2010, electoral boundaries commissions and legislation have been the only place where government and citizens debate voting systems and voter equality. Debates about the meaning of constitutional equality provisions and means by which they can be realized take place every time a boundaries commission is created by a legislature, every time that commission holds hearings and every time a legislature adopts or rejects its recommendations. Right now, boundaries debates are taking place at the municipal, provincial and federal levels and advocates of voter equality need to make ourselves heard.
Over the past generation, voting reformers have learned some important lessons about how to change voting systems and force changes in the direction of voter equality. While equalizing the populations of ridings is insufficient, by itself, to achieve equality, it remains the biggest positive change in the direction of voter equality achieved in the past generation. Unlike the rigged, poison pill referenda held in BC, PEI and Ontario and the toothless government commissions in Québec, New Brunswick and nationally, the court judgements of 1988 and 1989 did change how votes were counted in Canada. That’s why MoVE is funding work on developing a legal strategy to re-litigate our voting system based on Charter equality, voting and association rights.