Sept. 22, 2004
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The Commission on Legislative Democracy today released Options, a progress report to New Brunswickers on the work of the commission to date.
"We are pleased to present Options to New Brunswickers to receive their feedback. It sets out some of the key options for democratic renewal we are considering to help make New Brunswick's democratic institutions and practices stronger, fairer, and more representative," Commission co-chairs Lise Ouellette and Lorne McGuigan said. "Options is based on what we have heard from New Brunswickers, as well as our own research and analysis."
Commission co-chairs Lise Ouellette and Lorne McGuigan - Video: (Original) (Interpretation) - (more audio/video)
The commission held 11 public hearings and 11 community leaders' round tables throughout the province in May and June. It sponsored several issue forums and round tables, as well as an academic research conference, to hear opinion from experts in New Brunswick and throughout Canada.
"Our fully interactive website has enabled us to hear from even more New Brunswickers through our Citizen's Participation Guide and questionnaire," the co-chairs said.
Key options outlined in the progress report include:
Under Electoral Reform:
A regional mixed-member proportional representation electoral system for New Brunswick; a new law to draw electoral boundaries; a fixed election date set for the third Monday in October every four years; mandatory civics education in New Brunswick public schools; initiatives to increase the representation of women in the Legislative Assembly.
Under Legislative Reform:
Initiatives to enhance the roles of MLAs and the Legislature such as free votes and stronger legislative committees; more resources for constituencies to ensure MLAs represent their ridings more effectively; a more open and transparent process allowing all New Brunswickers to apply for a position on a agency, board or commission; measures to enhance party democracy including applying financing rules to political parties for nominations and leadership contests.
Under Democratic Reform:
Referendums to be held in exceptional circumstances only in New Brunswick, supported by a new law; ways to improve public understanding and involvement in local decision-making authorities such as District Education Councils and Regional Health Authorities, including reviewing the decision-making authority of these two groups.
Options will be distributed in about 135,000 daily newspapers next week to reach as many New Brunswickers as possible. It can be accessed now on the commission's website at http://www.gnb.ca, keyword: Democracy. To request a copy, please call 506-453-5335.
"Now we want to hear from New Brunswickers on what they think of our options. Individuals and groups of New Brunswickers will have the opportunity to present us with their views on our options this fall at three public hearings in October," Ouellette and McGuigan said. "Individual New Brunswickers will also be invited to listen and ask questions of the commission at community-based meetings to be held throughout the province in October."
The Progress Report also includes a short online questionnaire that can shortly be answered through the commission's website. Citizens can consult the Options document online as they fill out the questionnaire. Visit the website at http://www.gnb.ca, keyword: Democracy, and click on Options to complete the questionnaire. To request a paper copy of the questionnaire, call 506-453-5335 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Brunswickers are invited to share their views and comments on the options the commission is considering at the following time and locations. Groups and individuals are invited to take this opportunity to make submissions to the commission based on Options.
Sunday, Oct. 17
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Royal Canadian Legion, 575 St Peter's Ave.
Saturday, Oct. 23
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Moncton Lions Senior Centre, 473 St George St.
Saturday, Oct. 30
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Royal Canadian Legion, 199 Queen St.
For more information on the Commission of Legislative Democracy or to participate in the Quick Quiz and Speak Up! e-democracy tools, visit the website at: http://www.gnb.ca, keyword: Democracy.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marie-Josée Groulx, Director of Consultations and Communications, Commission on Legislative Democracy, 506-457-6770 or 506-470-6522.