Local MP Scott Reid Unveils Results of Riding Referendum on Bill C-14June 8, 2016
For immediate release
Last week, local MP Scott Reid, along with all other Members of Parliament, voted on Bill C-14, a controversial bill that, if passed by the Senate, will allow for medically-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. 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.
Reid held a riding referendum to give every eligible voter in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston the opportunity to tell Mr. Reid how they wished him to vote on the bill at its third and final reading in the House of Commons. As with his past referendums, Mr. Reid vowed to respect the decision of the people, and therefore voted YES according to the majority of ballots cast by his constituents.
The question was “Should Scott Reid, MP vote for Bill C-14, The Medical Assistance in Dying Act?” With thousands of votes cast, just over 67% of constituents voted in favour of the Bill. Every ballot received before the vote on May 31, 2016 was counted prior to Mr. Reid casting his vote in the House of Commons.
“This bill was 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. 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,” stated Reid.
“I strongly believe in listening to the people of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston. As this was such a critical, conscientious issue, I believe that everyone deserved a say. I will continue to consult my constituents on important votes of conscience.”
This was 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 many of his caucus colleagues.
For more information, please contact:
Office of Scott Reid, M.P.
How did the Constituency Referendum on Bill C-14 work? Every household in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston was sent a single flyer, 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 participated in the referendum did not have to affix a stamp to their reply.
How did you determine your votes on the amendments proposed to the bill? On May 30, 2016, Members of Parliament voted on amendments proposed to Bill C-14 at “report stage”. These amendments were proposed by members of the opposition, and were in response to perceived problems with the bill.
Mr. Reid voted:
- AGAINST removing all safeguards for eligibility to medically-assisted suicide (proposed by Mr. Rankin, NDP);
- FOR requiring those who seek medically-assisted suicide to be informed of palliative care and other options (proposed by Mr. Genuis, Conservative);
- FOR requiring a psychiatric examination, and a written report, from a certified psychiatrist if a person seeking medically-assisted suicide has an underlying mental health challenge that may affect their capacity to provide informed consent (proposed by Mr. Cooper, Conservative);
- AGAINST removing the requirement that a person’s death must be reasonably foreseeable as a precondition for seeking medically-assisted suicide (proposed by Mr. Theriault, Bloc Québécois);
- FOR increasing the threshold for seeking medically-assisted suicide to situations where the person’s natural death is imminent, instead of the person’s death being only reasonably foreseeable (proposed by Mr. Genuis, Conservative);
- FOR making self-administration of medical assistance in dying the default method of application, as it pertains to administering a deadly substance (proposed by Mr. Genuis, Conservative);
- FOR requiring that requests for medically-assisted suicide be reviewed by a competent legal authority prior to being granted (proposed by Mr. Genuis, Conservative);
- FOR conscience protection for medical professionals, providers, and institutions that refuse to provide direct or indirect medically-assisted suicide, and for protection for these individuals and institutions from sanction by other Acts of Parliament (proposed by Mr. Cooper, Conservative); and
- AGAINST requiring an independent review (pertaiing to mature minors, advance requests, and mental illness) to be initiated 45 days after Royal Assent of the bill, instead of 180 days after Royal Assent (proposed by Ms. May, Green).
Mr. Reid voted his conscience on these amendments. All of these amendments were defeated.
Why did some constituents not receive the referendum flyer? Mr. Reid was made aware that some constituents did not receive the referendum flyer. He has contacted both Canada Post and House of Commons Printing and Mailing Services to determine why this problem occurred. Mr. Reid regrets that some of his constituents did not get the chance to provide a ballot to him before the vote, and will work to ensure this situation does not repeat itself in the future.
How did you ensure the process would 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 were voters asked to include their name and address on each ballot? Respondents were 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 has been kept in strict confidence, the ballots have been kept in a secure location, and every ballot will be destroyed following the House of Commons vote.
What were 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 on Bill C-14.
4) The results of the referendum will be made public prior to the vote in the House of Commons.
Note: Due to the hurried nature of this vote, Mr. Reid was unable to publish the results until after the vote.
How did you determine which votes were spoiled or ineligible? Some were invalid due to voter ineligibility (out-of-riding address, no address). Others were invalid because it was not possible to determine the voting intention of the voter(s). (For example, some voters 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. He has pledged to continue to work to re-unite Lanark County within a single electoral district.
The fifth referendum took place in 2005, asking voters whether or not Scott Reid should support the traditional definition of marriage. 9,176 voters participated at the time. 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.
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