Petition to Change Recognized Opposition Party Status

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1)      Fairness and justice are central to democracy and should be expressed in the treatment of parties in the Manitoba Legislature. The clash of democratically expressed ideas in debate is enriched when a greater breadth of possible solutions are considered as a result of the inclusion and fair treatment of more voices which represent substantial proportions of Manitoba’s population.

 

2)      The current Rules of the Legislative Assembly which mandate that four MLAs are needed for official party status in Manitoba were set many years ago under a different electoral system.  Those Rules were referenced as early as 1924 and 1940 and now need to be updated for today’s world.

 

3)      Many other provinces have requirements which do not shut out parties that deserve to be recognized as legitimate.  For example, there is a requirement for only two MLAs for official party status in Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

 

4)      Other provinces such as Nova Scotia include other parameters than just the number of MLAs.  In Nova Scotia, the party must have run candidates in three-quarters of the ridings, receive at least 10% of the vote, and have two elected MLAs.

 

5)      Larger provinces like Alberta, which normally require  four MLAs for official party status, have provided official party status to parties with fewer MLAs (two in Alberta and two recently in British Columbia).

 

6)      The Manitoba Liberal Party, has had a minimum of three elected MLAs for the past two legislative sessions, winning more than 14% of the popular vote in each election. It ran candidates in all 57 constituencies in the most recent election, and deserves to be recognized as an official party in Manitoba, rather than to have its Members defined as “Independent” MLAs.

 

7)      The current Rules requiring four MLAs for official party status in Manitoba are arbitrary and undermine the most basic tenets of representative parliamentary democracy: freedom of speech; local representation; and the free exchange of ideas.

 

8)      Democracy in Manitoba is better served when all constituencies can enjoy strong representation and healthy debate in the Legislature.

We petition the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as follows:

To urge the Manitoba Legislature to support a change in the Legislative Assembly Rules and the Legislative Assembly Act, which will allow the designation of Recognized Opposition Party status with the election of two MLAs from the same party, provided that the party achieved more than 10% of the vote in the most recent provincial election.