Scott Reid holds Riding Referendum on Bill C-14May 10, 2016
For immediate release
This week, local MP Scott Reid (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston) sent a riding referendum – his seventh – to give every eligible voter in his riding the opportunity to cast their vote on whether Mr. Reid should vote in favour of, or against, Bill C-14 when it comes to its final vote in the House of Commons. Bill C-14 is the government’s proposed legislative response to the 2015 Carter decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, in which the Criminal Code prohibitions against assisted suicide were struck down as unconstitutional.
As with his past referendums, Mr. Reid will respect the decision of his constituents, and will vote according to the majority of ballots he receives prior to the Third Reading vote on Bill C-14.
Mr. Reid made the following comments:
“I have always believed that the people, not politicians, should make decisions on the most important issues. That’s why I’ve held this referendum, and six others since I was first elected in 2000.
“This bill is one of the relatively few occasions where the subject matter of the bill is so clearly an issue of personal conscience. I believe that the people of this riding—and by extension, the people of Canada as a whole—are no less thoughtful or reasonable than their elected officials. Your conscience is no less worthy than mine. Therefore it is the people, not the politicians, who should be able to directly determine the direction that this country takes on an issue as fundamental as medically-assisted death.
“When the Third Reading vote occurs on Bill C-14, I will vote according to the majority decision of the voters in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston who have responded to this referendum at that time.”
This week, each household in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston will receive a copy of a publication outlining the issue. Included are arguments from public figures on both sides of the issue, as well as information for advocacy websites that can be browsed for more information. For more information, visit www.ScottReid.ca/BillC-14.
The publication includes an official ballot to be sent to Scott Reid by mail, postage-free.
This will represent Mr. Reid’s seventh riding referendum since he was first elected in 2000. He has always voted according to the will of the majority of votes cast – even if it has meant voting against the rest of his caucus colleagues.
How does the Constituency Referendum on Bill C-14 work? Every household in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston was sent a single flyer this week, each containing four ballots. Eligible voters were invited to answer the question: “Should Scott Reid, MP vote for Bill C-14, the Medical Assistance in Dying act?” The flyer included an explanation of Bill C-14, along with prominent arguments for and against the bill. The actual mailing of the flyer is conducted by Canada Post, and is handled as “unaddressed” mail – so that every household receives a copy, rather than individual constituents. As correspondence to Members of Parliament can be sent postage-free, constituents who want to participate in the referendum do not have to affix a stamp to their reply.
How do you ensure the process will be impartial? Scott Reid has designed his ballot forms, for this referendum and for previous referenda, on the model of the impartial voter information booklets that are mailed to voters in state referenda in Washington State, California, and Switzerland.
Why are voters asked to include their name and address on each ballot? Respondents are asked to include their address and the names of each participating voter on their ballot, so that it could be confirmed that each vote originated from within the constituency and from an individual eligible to vote in elections (as per the Elections Canada list of electors). The contents of each individual ballot will be kept in strict confidence, the ballots will be kept in a secure location, and every ballot will be destroyed following the House of Commons vote.
What are the rules for the Constituency Referendum? The following rules were contained on the ballot form: VOTING RULES:
1) One vote may be cast, per REGISTERED VOTER in each household.
2) Ballots will be reviewed against the Final Voter’s List for the 2015 election. If more votes are cast than the number of voters residing at that address, all of the votes will be considered spoiled. (However, there is no requirement that all voters residing at an address participate, in order for the ballot to be counted).
3) In order to prevent multiple voting, please give your name(s) and address below. By law, your information cannot be divulged to anyone. For further security, the ballots will be destroyed after the vote in the House of Commons.
4) The results of the referendum will be made public prior to the vote in the House of Commons.
How will you determine if votes are spoiled or ineligible? Some may be invalid due to voter ineligibility (out-of-riding address, no address). Others may be invalid because it is not possible to determine the voting intention of the voter(s). (For example, some voters have, in the past, failed to mark either a “Yes” or a “No”.)
Isn’t a constituency referendum an extra cost for the taxpayer? Every Member of Parliament is permitted to send four “householder” mailings to their constituency per year, as the costs are already provided for by parliamentary budgets. Most MPs use this allocation to send calendars or holiday greetings to their constituents. As a means of giving his constituents a greater say in issues facing Parliament, Scott Reid has chosen instead to use some of his householder allotments to ask voters how he should vote on specific issues.
What other constituency referenda has Scott Reid conducted in the past? The vote on Bill C-14 is the seventh constituency referendum that Scott Reid has launched since his election in 2000.
The first referendum, in August 2001, asked constituents whether Scott should opt out of a proposed $21, 000 MP pay raise, or opt in and give the money to charity. 83% of respondents directed Scott Reid to opt in and give the raise to charity. Scott Reid has followed up by donating $21, 000 for CPR training and the purchase of defibrillators for local emergency services, each year since 2001.
The second referendum, in October 2001, asked constituents how Scott Reid should vote on Bill C-5, the Species at Risk Act. 65% of participants voted to support the bill, and he accordingly voted in favour of the bill at Third Reading.
The third referendum was conducted in November 2001, and asked voters whether or not Scott Reid should support Bill C-36, the Anti-Terrorism Act. 73% of respondents directed him to vote against the bill, which he did when the bill came to Third Reading in Parliament.
The fourth referendum took place in October 2002, asking constituents their opinion on the Electoral Boundary Commission’s decision to alter the federal constituency boundaries. 84% of respondents voted to maintain the boundaries of Lanark County within the riding, and 79% voted to include Smiths Falls in the same electoral district as Lanark County. Scott Reid presented these results to the Commission, requesting its decision reflect the stated views of his constituents. When the Commission ignored the request to keep Lanark County united, Scott Reid petitioned to overturn the decision. In 2015, this resulted in the reuniting of Lanark County within a single electoral district.
The fifth referendum took place in 2005, asking voters whether or not Scott Reid should support the Civil Marriage Act, which redefined marriage to include same-sex unions. 9,176 voters participated. 80% were opposed to the redefinition of marriage and 20% were in favour of the redefinition of marriage.
The sixth referendum took place in 2012, asking voters whether or not Scott Reid should support Motion M-312, which called for the formation of a House of Commons committee “to review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth”. This motion was argued by some to constitute a reopening of the debate over abortion in Canada. 65% of respondents voted for Scott Reid to oppose the motion, with 35% voting to support it. Scott Reid respected the decision of his constituents, and voted against Motion M-312.
For more information, please contact:
Office of Scott Reid, M.P,
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