Commission on Legislative Democracy
Commission on Legislative Democracy releases final report and recommendations
Jan. 19, 2005
FREDERICTON (CNB) -- The Commission on Legislative Democracy today released
its Final Report and Recommendations. The 228-page report contains close
to 90 recommendations to strengthen and modernize New Brunswick's democratic
institutions and practices and create a more citizen-centred democracy
in the province.
report was submitted today to Premier Bernard Lord, who established the
Commission in December 2003, with a one-year mandate to examine and make
recommendations on a wide range of democratic renewal issues. The premier
tabled the report in the Legislative Assembly.
Lorne McGuigan, Premier Bernard Lord, and Lise Ouellette.
(Large photo) -
"This report offers New Brunswickers a once-in-a-generation opportunity
to renew their democracy on behalf of citizens and communities. It reflects
the views and contributions of many New Brunswick citizens who spoke or
met with us over the course of the past year. As well, it reflects the
need to take concrete steps now to make our democracy stronger for people,"
Commission co-chairs Lise Ouellette and Lorne McGuigan said.
The Final Report sets out three key themes aimed at creating a more citizen-centred
democracy with specific recommendations for change under each theme. The
themes and major recommendations are:
Making Your Vote Count
- Changing to a new proportional representation electoral system called
New Brunswick Mixed Member Proportional (NB MMP) with 36 single member
riding MLAs, and 20 list PR MLAs elected in four multi-member districts;
- Giving all New Brunswickers the chance to vote on adopting NB MMP
in a binding, province-wide referendum to be held no later than the
2007 provincial general election;
- Adopting a new Representation and Electoral Boundaries Act with an
independent commission to draw new electoral boundaries for the province;
- Setting fixed election dates for provincial general elections to be
held every four years on the third Monday in October, beginning Oct.
- Creating a new independent electoral commission called Elections New
Brunswick which would combine the current offices of the Chief Electoral
Officer and the Supervisor of Political Financing, with an expanded
mandate to run elections and referendums, and promote voter awareness
and participation in the electoral process.
Making the System Work
- Enhancing the role of the Legislative Assembly with more free votes,
fewer confidence measures, and a three-line whip system to reduce party
- Strengthening the role and resources for legislative committees in
policy making and legislative review;
- Allowing the Legislative Assembly to independently develop and table
its own budget along with those of statutory Officers of the Legislative
Assembly such as the Auditor General, Ombudsman, and Chief Electoral
- Creating a new Legislative Library Research Office to provide MLAs
with independent research capacity to conduct policy analysis and draft
and introduce more private members' bills;
- Increasing the constituency budgets of MLAs to $50,000 annually to
enhance their ability to more effectively represent their constituents;
- Encouraging all MLAs to adopt a formal Code of Conduct;
- Providing for an independent review process for MLA remuneration with
a new consolidated salary structure;
- Establishing a fixed legislative calendar for the House, and a new
Transparency and Accountability Act with set Throne Speech and Budget
dates and requiring quarterly reporting of public accounts information;
- Improving political party democracy by legislating new financial spending,
contribution, and disclosure limits under the Political Process Financing
Act for party leadership and nomination contests;
- Creating new rules under the Elections Act for the operations of political
parties and how they run nomination and leadership contests to make
them more open and democratic;
- Encouraging the establishment and financing of party Policy Foundations
to make political parties more meaningful players in the development
of new public policies;
- Opening up the appointments process for government agencies, boards,
and commissions (ABCs) by allowing all New Brunswickers to apply for
positions, establishing a central ABC Appointments Unit with set guidelines
and procedures for appointments; establishing a detailed process for
appointments to significant ABCs; advertising vacancies; creating Board
Profiles and Position Descriptions; publicizing appointments; and involving
the legislature in the appointments process.
Making Your Voice Heard
- Boosting youth voter turnout, awareness, and participation in the
democratic process by establishing a new, mandatory Civics Education
Program for all K-12 students;
- Undertaking political awareness activities in schools, through websites,
Elections New Brunswick, and the legislature; encouraging online registration
and province-wide use of electronic tabulation machines to allow university
and community college students to vote outside their home riding;
- Encouraging political parties to nominate more women by providing
a specific financial incentive to parties of $1.00 more per valid vote
through the Political Process Financing Act if they nominate women as
at least 35 per cent of their candidates;
- Inviting Aboriginal people to meet, discuss, and develop an appropriate
process with the provincial government to seek the views of First Nations
on representation of Mi'kmaq and Maliseet people in the legislature;
- Adopting a new Referendum Act to allow for independently-run, province-wide,
binding referendums to be held on an exceptional basis in New Brunswick,
based on specific rules and regulations governing campaigning, financing,
- Encouraging more New Brunswickers to offer for DEC and RHA positions
and reviewing the roles and responsibilities of DECs and RHAs so they
are more meaningful and important to people and communities;
- Creating a new, central Public Dialogue Office to support government
and civil society organizations to undertake consultations with citizens
and communities; requiring annual pre-budget consultations by the Minister
of Finance; and promoting e-democracy in the province through more innovative
use of websites and online questionnaires and other tools to engage
citizens in government decisions.
"The report and recommendations of the Commission are the most comprehensive
and far-reaching ever presented in New Brunswick," the co-chairs said.
"Adopting them will make our democracy stronger, fairer, and bring it
closer to people."
The other members of the Commission are: Gérald Allain, Christine
Augustine, Lynne Castonguay, Albert Doucet, Connie Erb, and Brent Taylor.
Visit the Commission's website (http://www.gnb.ca,
keyword: Democracy) for a full copy of the Final Report and Recommendations,
a copy of Summary of Recommendations, and other information on the Commission's
research and activities. Click on our Quick Quiz and Speak Up! interactive
features and give your opinion on the Commission's recommendations.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marie-Josée Groulx, Commission on Legislative Democracy,
506-453-5335 or 506-470-6522.