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Electoral reform discussion draws passionate crowd

Minister for Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef holds court with Calgarians in a discussion on electoral reform. Saturday, October 29th, 2016. (Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

Dozens packed into a downtown hotel conference room to meet federal Minister for Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef and discuss electoral reform, Saturday afternoon.

Calgarians brainstormed together, and answered questions including if voting should be made mandatory, and if we should be able to cast ballots online.

But the main issue was what new election method should the federal government use for the 2019 vote, with many different opinions coming from the crowd.

Some of the reform choices presented were proportional representation, and a method where people rank the top four choices in an election.

This was the last stop on a country-wide tour for Monsef, who says while there have been some heated moments, there has been a common theme.

“It’s a very personal aspect of our identity, our democratic institutions” says Monsef. “Regardless of that, the conversations have been thoughtful and respectful, and that’s what we do as Canadians”

Some, like Eric Kozina, don’t like how the government is exploring this, and he made it known as he confronted Monsef while the groups shared talked about a question.

“There’s no need to have these discussions, like I told her. If they don’t have the courage to put it to a referendum, then don’t do it,” says Kozina, as we caught up with him outside the conference room. “We’re Canadians, we have our own system. We don’t need a Trudeau to come to Alberta and tell us what to do.”

Monsef has heard many different viewpoints during her tours, but still the most important thing to the Liberals is to get support from all citizens.

“Some people want change really, really badly, and some people don’t want change and think we need to work on the existing system. My job is to hear all those perspectives,” the Minister assures. “We’re not going to move forward on electoral reform without the broad support of Canadians.”

Monsef also reiterated that point when one person asked a question referencing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent interview with a French publication where he seemed to indicate Canadians may not care about changing the election system.

But Kozina doesn’t have a lot of trust in this process.

“The only reason why they want a preferential ballot is so they can secure another majority government. Because after 4 years of Trudeau, who’s going to want to elect him?”

After the discussions had wrapped up, Matt tells 660 NEWS the event was well run.

“I think we saw really a big consensus in the room for proportional representation. We saw that people really care about having a system where peoples’ votes matter.”

If there was one complaint from those in the room, it was that they didn’t get enough notice that the discussion was happening.

Now, the information gathered on these tours will be put forward to drafting legislation in the near future.

“As well as the report that the committee is going to provide us with on December 1st. We’re going to take all of that and it’s going to form the basis of legislation that we hope to introduce in the House of Commons this spring.”