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All eyes turn to tiny P.E.I. as electoral reform put to voters

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Tiny Prince Edward Island has a chance to send a big message to the rest of the country about electoral reform when voters are asked to consider proportional representation in a referendum as early as this spring.

Voters in British Columbia rejected making such a change in December, and while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to abolish the first-past-the-post federal voting system during the 2015 election, he later abandoned the plan, saying Canadians were not eager for change.

Now, advocates hope Canada’s smallest province will lead the way.

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“We were really counting on British Columbia. This was really devastating for our cause,” said Real Lavergne, president of Fair Vote Canada, a group that promotes proportional representation.

“We thought if a referendum was ever going to win, the conditions were good for that referendum to win. In the end, voters voted more along partisan lines,” he said.

Information sessions are now being held across P.E.I. to educate the public on the pros and cons of switching from the current first-past-the-post system to a mixed member proportional voting system.

The P.E.I. vote will be binding.

READ MORE: Proportional Representation for Dummies

But this isn’t the first time P.E.I. voters have been asked to consider electoral reform.

In fact, they voted 52 per cent in favour of switching to mixed member proportional reform during a plebiscite in 2016, but Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan rejected the results because of a low turnout of about 36 per cent.

“I think turnout will be much higher this time because the referendum is being held in conjunction with the next provincial general election. We usually get election turnout around 80 per cent,” said referendum commissioner Gerard Mitchell.

“This is a great exercise in direct democracy for the people. So they should vote and be informed what their choices are,” he said.

In 2016, voters were given five choices, but this time it will simply be a chance to vote “yes” or “no” to the question “Should Prince Edward Island change its voting system to a mixed member proportional voting system?”

A “No” vote would see no change in the way members are chosen for the 27 seats in the legislature, while a “yes” vote would see 18 members chosen in redrawn electoral districts and nine others chosen in province-wide ballots.

WATCH: Proportional representation defeated in referendum






Mitchell said under such a system, people would get two votes.

“One for district MLA and the other would be for the party list candidate. The party list is used to top-up the seats of those parties who did not get enough seats at the district level to reflect their share of the popular vote.”

About 90 countries, including New Zealand, Germany and parts of Scotland use such a system.

Lavergne said it has been difficult to convince Canadians to make the change because most politicians feel secure with the status quo.

“The interest of politicians is always for the first-past-the-post system because whoever is in power got elected by first-past-the-post. MLAs look at it and say maybe I wouldn’t be re-elected if we changed the system,” he said.

Still, he expects Quebec’s new CAQ government, which campaigned in part on the issue, will adopt a mixed member proportional system in the next year or so.

Don Desserud, a political scientist at the University of Prince Edward Island, said many Islanders didn’t pay any attention to the last plebiscite until the government decided not to accept the results.

“That’s a question of trust in government, integrity and worrying whether governments are serious when they make these promises to have a vote and respect the results,” Desserud said.

READ MORE: Referendum defeat dooms reformers’ hopes for foreseeable future

Lavergne said switching from the first-past-the-post system would give third parties a greater chance of winning seats, and would allow the results to better reflect the way people actually voted.

“In Ontario you have a majority government that was elected with about 41 per cent of the vote. People have to ask themselves if they are really comfortable with that,” he said.

No date has been set for the P.E.I. election, but Mitchell said the general wisdom is that it will be held this spring, and the referendum will be ready to go.

Desserud said he believes it could be as early as May.

“The last election was May 4 in 2015, so four years from that would be a reasonable time to call an election and won’t look like an early election or an opportunistic election. I expect there will be an election in May or early June,” he said.

The Island government could wait until the fall, but most expect it to go early to avoid any conflict with the federal election in October.



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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