Commission on Legislative Democracy

Commission on Legislative Democracy releases final report and recommendations (05/01/19)

NB 48

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.

The 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) - Video: (Original) (Interpretation) - (more audio/video)

"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. 15, 2007;


  • 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 discipline;


  • 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 Officer;


  • 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, and voting;


  • 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.

05/01/19

MEDIA CONTACT: Marie-Josée Groulx, Commission on Legislative Democracy, 506-453-5335 or 506-470-6522.

05/01/19