Green MLA calls for proportional representation, not a smaller legislature

Green MLA Megan Mitton

Local Green MLA Megan Mitton is calling on Premier Higgs to implement far-reaching electoral reform instead of musing about cutting the number of seats in the New Brunswick legislature.

“Frankly, I’m disappointed to hear that type of discussion happen as if democracy is the problem here,” Mitton said during a year-end interview in Sackville last week.

The member for Memramcook-Tantramar was commenting on a recent report in the Irving-owned Telegraph-Journal in which Higgs is quoted as suggesting that since MLAs can be “barriers” to economic prosperity, it might be a good idea to reduce their numbers in the legislature.

The newspaper adds that although Higgs isn’t seriously considering chopping the number of MLAs from the current 49, the issue concerns him because it’s a “struggle” to persuade politicians to support economic development initiatives if they don’t garner votes in local constituencies.

Mitton suggested that having less representation in the legislature would do nothing to solve the province’s real economic problems.

“Some of the major problems we have in New Brunswick have to do with the monopoly we have around the press, around industries, and it’s not about the people working in those industries, it’s about how the power and wealth is distributed in our province,” Mitton said.

“Frankly, if we’re going to look at electoral reform, I’d like to see proportional representation,” she added.

Mitton pointed out that a Progressive Conservative government led by Bernard Lord established a commission to study legislative democracy in 2004 and when it recommended a system of proportional representation, the premier promised to hold a referendum on it during the municipal elections of 2008.

However, when Lord lost power in the 2006 provincial election, the Liberals scrapped the idea. (To read Professor Paul Howe’s study of proportional representation in New Brunswick, click here.)

“The idea for proportional representation has been around for a long time,” Mitton said, “so I’d like to see Higgs do that.”

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6 Responses to Green MLA calls for proportional representation, not a smaller legislature

  1. Harold says:

    Here is a note from history:
    No democracy that used first past the post fell to dictatorship during the period [1918-1939].
    “During the inter-war period, many European democracies fell into a similar pattern of events. Politics exacerbated the divisions within society, coalition governments failed to effectively address the pressing issues of the day, and finally authoritarians stepped in to denounce democracy as a failure. Did proportional representation have a role to play in these outcomes?”
    First-past-the-post has a tendency to force parties toward the centre.


    • Les & Faye Hicks says:

      Hi Harold,

      You might want to read the following article at :–the-politics-of-fear-on-proportional-representation/ for a rebuttal of Koabel’s and Love’s skewed opinion piece on proportional representation. For further information on proportional representation you can check out Fair Vote Canada’s site :


      Les Hicks


      • Harold says:

        Thanks, Les, that’s a good article and shows another perspective. Another fear I would have of proportional representation is a further splintering of the political spectrum. It would also require some modifications to our bicameral parliamentary system, which is already straining with five parties in the House. It was not designed for proportional representation, as many modern European parliaments have been. Therefore I think it’s a bit of a simplistic solution to a complex situation. It requires more than just changing the way we count votes. It is also more difficult for people to understand, which is one reason BC voters have said no, three times.


  2. Sally Cunliffe says:

    MLA’s are paid $85,000 per year. I would like to see less MLA’s in New Brunswick if it saves money. Conservatives are usually looking for ways to save money and balance budgets. That’s not so surprising to me. I have suggested that they are overpaid; just as the Federal MPs are overpaid at $178,900 per year. No politician would advocate for a pay cut however… shush.. just keep talking about how poor people are becoming but do nothing about it is Megan’s plan. Great. Her party wants us to get off oil and gas; perhaps we need to get off green politicians.. they’ll have us all living in poverty if they have their way.


  3. Mike Gallant says:

    Before changing the structure of our parliamentary system (PR/MMR), we could consider making voting mandatory as they have in Australia – over 90% voter turnout. That would be a good starting point. Changing from “first past the post” to PR seems futile if we continue to have poor voter turnout? Get rid of the Senate or make it elected – it seems offensive in a mature democracy, that we still have legislators appointed.


    • Sally Cunliffe says:

      We have all kinds of unelected people in commissions and countless bureaucrats in all levels of government so why single out the Senate? I actually like they are there to be honest because of how they are selected and what they bring to the process… some of them that work in the Senate do take their role very seriously for instance Sen. Lynn Beyak who I had the good fortune to speak with last year for about an hour on the phone. I’m just not sure how it would all look without a Senate but I agree more people should get off the couch and vote but before they vote I would really appreciate it if they would read the party platforms and make an informed vote… and not vote the way their unions tell them to and such other sorts of shenanigans.. studying policy and understanding a bit of basics about the spending habits of certain parties would be really advantageous.

      “Although legislation can normally be introduced in either chamber, the majority of government bills originate in the House of Commons, with the Senate acting as the chamber of “sober second thought” (as it was called by Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister)”


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