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‘Old white guys’ dominate parliament and that’s not right, MP Aldag says

Cloverdale - Langley City Liberal speaks at Langley town hall meeting on electoral reform

A Langley forum on changing the way we vote in federal elections heard the local MP argue there are currently too many people like him in parliament, and not enough women, visible minorities and people with disabilities.

“There’s frankly, a bunch of old white guys who make up the majority of Members of Parliament,” Cloverdale-Langley City Liberal MP John Aldag said.

“And although I think that, you know, as someone falling into that category, I can represent a range of opinions, others argue it’s best to actually have representatives from those communities speaking for those communities.”

Aldag said minorities and disabled people are under-represented in the House of Commons and it was a “real shame” that only 30 per cent of MPs are women, when women make up just under half the population.

He was speaking at a Fair Vote Canada town hall-style meeting on electoral reform held Saturday in Langley.

About 50 people attended the three-hour meeting.

The MP was appointed in June to the Special House of Commons committee that is reviewing Canada’s electoral system.

It aims to find an alternative to the current first-past-the-post approach that has been criticized because it allows political parties like the Liberal government to win elections with less than a majority of the overall vote.

“We have, as was said, 100 per cent of the power, and yet we have less than 50 per cent of the support of Canadians in the election,” Aldag commented.

“The question is, is that fair?”

Aldag said he hopes the report by the all-party committee in December will list multiple alternatives.

The town hall meeting was organized by Fair Vote volunteer and Fort Langley resident Timothy Jones, who opened the meeting by saying under the existing system, it only takes a “small shift in swing ridings” to change governments.

The Liberals, he noted, won “100 per cent of the legislative power” with 39 per cent of the vote.

“We have a situation where more than 50 per cent of the vote doesn’t count,” Jones said.

“People are walking away from the system and turnout is declining.”

The meeting, which was live-streamed online, also heard about alternative voting methods from Dr. Antony Hodgson of UBC, and Craig Henschel, an alumnus of the BC Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform, a provincial attempt at electoral reform that was rejected in a 2009 referendum.

It appeared a majority of those who attended the Saturday meeting favoured some sort of change to the existing system.

A questionnaire was circulated at the meeting and a report on the responses will be submitted to the Electoral Reform committee.