Frequently Asked Questions:

Local Proportional Representation

What is Local PR?

Local PR is an electoral system designed to meet Canada's needs in the 21st century. The makeup of Parliament would closely reflect voters' intentions. Voters would be free to choose whether to base their vote on the individual candidates or the parties they represent. Political parties would need to collaborate to create and enact legislation with the support of MPs who represent a majority of the voters. The risk of one party getting 100% control with less than 40% of the popular vote would be eliminated. At the same time, local representation would be maintained and all MPs would face the electorate.

Is Local PR used in any other countries?

Local PR is based on the Single Transferable Vote electoral system (STV) that has been used for many years by countries such as Ireland, states such as Queensland, Australia and cities such as Cambridge, Massachusetts and Wellington, New Zealand. STV requires multi-member districts in order for the results to represent the intentions of every voter. For Canada, Local PR would add the feature of having multi-member regions consisting of 4 to 7 ridings elect a local MP for each riding within the region. There would be no need to change current riding boundaries for Local PR.

How would ridings be grouped?

In each province, independent Electoral Boundaries Commissions are responsible for determining riding boundaries. Under Local PR, they would also be given the job of determining the appropriate groupings of ridings into voting regions. The optimal size for a region is 5 to 6 ridings. Under our constitution, regions can not span provincial boundaries.

How would Local PR produce a proportional result?

The proportional result would come from the ability to provide lower rank preferences for candidates from a voter’s favoured party in other ridings within the voting region. Consider, for instance, a 5 riding region where Party A consistently gets 20% of the vote in each riding. Under our current first-past-the-post voting system, no candidate from Party A would ever get a seat. Assume that each Party A voter selected all the Party A candidates across their region as their top 5 choices in a Local PR vote. The preferential vote transfer under Local PR would then allow all these votes to be effectively amalgamated and meet the threshold (“quota”) for winning one seat.

Would the same method be used in rural and urban areas?


Would this method have ‘safe seats’ where the same person wins the same seat election after election?

There would be no ‘safe seats’. Every MP would have to seriously campaign and face the voters in their region to be re-elected.

What would happen in a 5 member district like NW Calgary, where one party normally gets 50%-60% of the vote? Would we still get 5 MPs from the same party?

No. In a situation like this, the result would likely be 3 MPs from the dominant party and 2 from one or more of the other parties, reflecting the proportion of votes across the region.

In a region, would candidates of the same party competing against each other?

Candidates from the same party would need to both compete and co-operate. Candidates would be working towards first-rank votes for themselves and the next best rankings for other candidates from their own party. In Ireland MPs from the same party informally divide the region into areas where they campaign for their party. Local PR does this formally with each MP running in a specific riding.

How proportional is Local PR?

As it is currently proposed, Local PR would bring parties’ percentage of seats in the House of Commons much closer to the share of the popular vote they earned, but the results would still not be fully proportional especially for parties that garner less than about 15% of the popular vote. The degree of proportionality would depend on the size of electoral regions, but for regions of 5 or more ridings, Local PR would generally score better than 5 on the Gallagher index of proportionality (as recommended by the ERRE).

How can Local PR be made fully proportional?

Local PR could be made fully proportional by adding about 30 to 40 top-up seats to the House of Commons that would be divided among the Provinces. A top-up seat could be assigned to one or two electoral regions to maintain regional accountability. These seats would be awarded to candidates from parties whose seat count fell short in the election of local MPs, in order to bring the total number of MPs from each party in line with its percentage of the popular vote. A party with 25% of the vote in a given province would end up with approximately 25% of the seats for that province.

Why not include top-up seats in the proposal for Local PR, to make it fully proportional?

At the present time, many federal politicians and many members of the public do not support an increase in the number of MPs in the House of Commons (nor do they want their ridings to be enlarged to enable top-up seats with the existing number of MPs). We are more likely to get widespread support for Local PR as it is now (ie without top-ups) in time for the 2019 election. Our hope is that after experience with a fairer voting system in 2019, a majority of Canadians would support further refinements to achieve full proportionality.

How many top-up seats would be needed to make Local PR fully proportional and how would this compare to the number needed for Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP)?

Full proportionality could be achieved with substantially fewer top-up seats (10% to 12% of total seats) compared to MMP (40% of total seats) because the results of the Local PR contests would already be significantly proportional.

The campaign - All Votes Count

Is this futile? How can we succeed?

We have a made-in-Canada proposal that adheres to the five reference principles of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform that toured Canada in the fall of 2016. Local PR complies with the committee's final recommendation for a proportional system. It is endorsed by the previous Chief Electoral Officer for Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley and other high profile Canadians. There is a well organized citizen-driven campaign behind it that is gathering momentum as it spreads across the country. Your signature on the petition for your riding would help to show your MP in particular and Parliament in general that Canadians want Local PR adopted before the next election. With enough popular support behind Local PR’s specific, actionable, consensus model for electoral reform, the political will can be found.

What were the Prime Minister's stated reasons for dropping the electoral reform promise?

The stated reasons included there was no consensus on a specific system to replace first-past-the-post and not enough support had been shown to justify making the change.

What happens if the government ignores the campaign petitions?

Our hope is that the current government did not feel it had the political capital to move electoral reform forward and that once strong Canada-wide support is shown for a specific voting system, the government will gladly jump on board and thereby save face for the many Liberal MPs who campaigned on a promise of a new voting system.

In addition, it may be that other political parties saw the opportunity to score political points over a failure to enact a promised end to first-past-the-post voting as more important than electoral reform. Again, we hope that a strong show of Canada-wide support will change this political calculation in the future.

We know that serious strategy can’t rest just on hope. The campaign is consciously designed to move democracy in Canada forward even if the federal government and more generally Parliament ignores a demonstration of widespread support for Local PR. In particular:

  • In some ways, we are providing an explicit test of Canadian democracy. Failure of this test by Parliament will in itself make the need for democratic reform stronger in the minds of many Canadians.

  • Canadians will have learned more about the potential to have a voting system that better reflects voter intention while keeping local MPs and respecting voters' preferences for how they make their choices of who will represent them.

  • The groundwork will have thereby been laid to make real electoral reform a major issue in the 2019 election.

  • The campaign will also advocate testing Local PR at both the municipal level (where wards exist) and the provincial level.
For more details on the evolving strategy for Local PR go to

My MP does not want to change the electoral system. Should we still organize a petition? What would be the point of doing so?

Signatures on your local petition will be counted in the national total.

Your campaign will serve an educational purpose. Successful introduction of Local PR (or any other electoral system based on proportional representation) depends on raising awareness and understanding throughout Canada.

Where do I go to help out with the campaign?

To get involved in your riding, please look it up by postal code on

Getting Local PR

How much time is needed to implement Local PR?

The current estimate (under review) is approximately one year.

Elections under Local PR

What would the requirements be for a candidate to run under Local PR?

The rules for becoming a candidate would be the same as they are today.

Would independent candidates be permitted with Local PR?


How would campaigning work under Local PR?

Candidates would be reaching out to voters in all ridings in their region, trying to become their first, second, or third choice.

Elections Canada would be responsible for producing and distributing a booklet with one page for each candidate in the region. Each candidate would provide the information for their own page. The booklet may be available online as well as distributed through local post offices in the same manner as tax forms for those who prefer a print copy. The practical decisions on how best to distribute the booklet information would be made by Elections Canada.

Would there need to be a major educational campaign for voters to learn how to vote under Local PR?

It would be important for Canadians to know what to expect before they go to the polls. How to mark your ballot can be easily explained in short videos, pamphlets or other public service announcements.

How many candidates can you vote for on the ballot?

Voters may rank as many or as few candidates on the ballot as they wish.

I've heard that ranked ballots don't produce proportional results. Is that true?

A ranked ballot is a tool. The way it is used in an electoral system is what determines whether the results are proportional or winner-take-all. Simply put, when a ranked ballot is used to fill a single position such as mayor, the results are necessarily winner-take-all. Municipalities only have one mayor. When a ranked ballot is used to elect multiple members of a legislature from a region, the results are proportional. The degree of proportionality depends in part on how many members are in the region.

Why would I get to vote for candidates in neighbouring ridings (and voters in those ridings get to vote for candidates in mine)? This feels unfair.

In order for almost every vote to count toward electing an MP and almost every voter to have an MP who is politically aligned with their views, the citizens of the region would be electing several MPs to represent the whole region, with each one also having constituency responsibility for their own local riding. This is the only way to get proportionality without increasing the number of seats in Parliament or increasing the size of the ridings (or a more obscure option of varying the weight of each MP’s vote in Parliament).

In other words, each MP represents both the riding and the region and so each voter in the region has the option of voting for any Candidate in the region.

Your local MP would also represent voters in other ridings who are more politically aligned with them than their local MP on policy matters, just as voters in your riding who did not vote for your local MP would be able to look to one or more other MPs in your region who would better represent their point of view.

The candidates for MP for your riding would still be nominated by the party members (or in the case of independent candidates by voters) in your riding as they are now.

This also reflects the design principle of promoting parliamentary collaboration and reducing extremism. Candidates would have to reach out to a broader geographic range of voters. They would therefore need to develop a geographically broader perspective. Furthermore, the 4-7 MPs from each region (generally from more than one party) would have to work together to better reflect the concerns of their regional voters in Parliament.

Someone told me that an algorithm would determine which candidates are elected. What does that mean?

An algorithm is simply a set of precise instructions used to solve a problem.

All electoral systems use an algorithm to determine who is elected.

Our current electoral system uses a fairly simple algorithm but the result does not accurately reflect the will of the voters.

Local PR uses a more sophisticated algorithm to elect a much more representative Parliament.

What would happen if a Candidate got more votes than needed to win a seat?

When Candidate A receives more votes than are required to win a seat, that surplus support is distributed to the voters' next-ranked choices. The number of surplus votes is treated as a pool of support which is then distributed to the voters' next choices. If 45% of the voters who elected Candidate A have Candidate Z as their next choice then Candidate Z receives 45% of the pool of surplus support.

Would this require computerized voting?

No. We anticipate paper ballots would be used just as they are in many of the countries, states and municipalities that use a similar ballot, including Ireland, Scotland (for local elections) Legislative Councils or Assemblies in all 6 Australian States, and the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

There is another alternative that we recommend. Some jurisdictions with voting systems similar to Local PR (such as Australia) that use a paper ballot are using optical scanning technology to count votes. Voters’ original paper ballots are retained to confirm accuracy or for possible recount.

How long would it take to count the vote?

By using optical scanners on paper ballots to count the vote, Local PR election results could be obtained in considerably less time than is currently required for a hand count under FPTP.

If counting is done by hand it would take longer than at present to count the vote, but a fair outcome is worth waiting for.

What about Nunavut, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories?

As Canada’s three territories have only one MP each, only candidates running for the seat in a territory would be on the ballot for that territory.

How government would work

What would be the Constituent-MP relationship with Local PR?

Every MP would function as both a local MP and a regional MP.

Citizens would benefit from having both a local MP who does regular constituency work (e.g. passports and visas, ceremonial openings, business development programs, etc.) and regional MPs (who may be the same as their local MP) who may better represent their policy view. You would be able to go to any regional MP about a tax policy change, fighting for or against a pipeline, raising a moral or social justice issue in Parliament, etc.

What would happen if an MP crossed the floor?

Local PR would not change the rules regarding MPs changing party affiliation. The MP would serve out their term. To run for re-election the MP would have to be nominated by a political party for a local seat or run as an Independent.

Would Local PR produce stable governments?

Yes. Experience in other countries suggests that most often the government would be formed by a stable coalition representing the majority of the voters, but single-party majority governments are still possible. The two national governments whose electoral systems are most similar to Local PR are Ireland and Malta. Both of these governments have conducted Parliamentary elections under their current system since 1921. Both nations are ranked, along with Canada, in the top tier of The Economist's Democracy Index rankings, higher than Japan, France, the U.S. and most other western nations.

Would Local PR produce effective governments?

Yes. The question of whether electoral systems based on the principle of proportional representation produce effective government was addressed in by Professor Arend Lijphart, Research Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California, San Diego, in his testimony before the Special Committee on Electoral Reform. Dr. Lijphart reported on a study he had completed comparing 10 countries that use a first-past-the-post electoral system (FPTP) with 22 countries that use various electoral systems based on the principle of proportional representation (PR) over a period of 20 years. His conclusion is that on the whole PR governments are more effective than FPTP governments based on comparison of measures such as economic growth, inflation, unemployment, budget balance, regulatory quality, the rule of law, and control of corruption.

Policies made by PR governments tend to be more enduring because they require the consensus of multiple parties representing the majority of the voters. In countries that use FPTP, governments elected with as little as 40% of popular vote often make decisions with little or no input from other parties. Ideology more easily trumps wisdom under such circumstances. As a result, each time the reins of power are passed from one party to another, time and money are expended reversing the policies of the previous government.

Why do people care?

  • Our present electoral system elects “false majority” governments more often than true majorities. Sometimes a party even wins a majority of the seats in Parliament when a different party received more votes. At the national level this has happened five times in Canada (and at least 16 times in provincial elections).

  • Many votes do not count toward electing an MP who represents the voter's perspective.

  • There are many “safe” ridings where 50% or more of the voters get no representation in Parliament, election after election.

  • Under FPTP, whole regions of the country have been be excluded from government.

  • Voters want to vote for a candidate who would represent their views in Parliament, not against a candidate they really don't want.

  • Winner-take-all electoral systems such as ours encourage constant electioneering and confrontation in Parliament.

  • Governments are won and lost in “swing” ridings where small changes in the popular vote determine which party wins the seat. This leads to parties focusing on small, sometimes very unrepresentative, segments of the population in those ridings. This can lead to “wedge-issue” politics designed to divide Canadians.

What are the benefits of Local PR?

  • Virtually every vote would count toward the election of a candidate chosen by the voter.

  • Every MP would still have a local riding.

  • The number of MPs in Parliament would remain the same.

  • The riding MPs in each region would represent the diversity of perspective in the region.

  • Local PR would have a simple and extremely flexible ballot design.

  • Voters would have a wide choice of how to vote. They could choose to base their choice of candidates on the qualities of the individual and/or their party affiliation.

  • There would be no need to vote for a particular candidate in order to prevent the election of a party or candidate you don't like.

  • Minimum thresholds for earning seats would keep the number of parties manageable.

  • All regions of the country would be represented both in government and in opposition, leading to better-informed decisions.

How does Local PR Compare to Other PR Electoral Systems?

Local PR is the only proportional electoral system that would maintain current riding boundaries and assure a local MP for each riding, without adding any MPs to Parliament, and that can be implemented in time for the 2019 election.

How does Local PR compare to MMP (Mixed Member Proportional Representation)?

Depending on the particular version, MMP either requires a party vote or interprets the voter's choice for local MP as a party vote, in order to determine the number of top-up seats for each party.

MMP works on the premise that all voters intend to express a party preference with their vote. However some Canadians do not want to vote for a party at all. Many feel that a system based on awarding seats solely upon party affiliation undesirably strengthens the role of political parties in government.

Local PR respects the way different voters want to make their choices. It offers equal opportunity to those who base their choice on the qualities of the individual candidates, and those who consider the party to be their primary criterion.

It allows voters to sincerely express their first preference, whether that be an independent or a candidate from a party that may not win a seat, while still ensuring that their preferences are taken into account in determining the winning candidates. In these ways Local PR is more inclusive than MMP.

There are many variations of MMP, but most if not all of them require that approximately 40% of parliamentarians be “top-up” MPs. In order to implement MMP in Canada it would be necessary to do one of two things: either enlarge our current ridings through a lengthy redistricting process (redrawing boundaries so that top-up seats can be freed up) or else add approximately 135 MPs to Parliament, in a way that conforms to the rules governing how many MPs are allotted to each province.

Local PR is able to achieve good representation of voter intentions without changing current riding boundaries or adding MPs to Parliament. Every MP is elected solely by voters selecting them on their ballot.

How is Local PR different from STV (Single Transferable Vote)?

Local PR is STV with the added condition that each riding is represented by a local MP. The details of how this is implemented are spelled out in the website.

How is Local PR different from RUPR (Rural-Urban Proportional Representation)?

RUPR is a hybrid of MMP, which would be applied in rural areas, and STV, which would be applied in urban areas. It does include top-up MPs but would require fewer of them than a system that used MMP throughout.

Local PR for other levels of government (provincial, municipal)

How applicable is Local PR for provincial and municipal elections?

Local PR is just as applicable to provincial elections, and to municipal elections where the municipality has a ward system with four or more wards.

The organization – All Votes Count Canada

How is this different from other groups advocating proportional representation?

All Votes Count is a new organization with a history that began just as the Government of the 42nd Canadian Parliament dropped electoral reform from its agenda. It formed out of grassroots citizens’ determination to continue the work begun by Parliament on democratic reform and in particular on voting system reform.

First, AVC differs from other national organizations concerned with democratic and electoral reform because it has put forward a single a consensus model for voting system reform, which it aims to continue to evolve through citizen engagement across Canada.

Second, AVC differs in its structure at a local and national level because it is determinedly cross-partisan, involving strong individual adherents of all major political parties, each of whose commitment to citizenship rises beyond their partisan histories. It is not and will not be successfully pigeon-holed as the creature of any party.

Third, AVC has a strong commitment to structured processes of citizen engagement which build toward clear and legitimate policy outcomes, which will be everywhere evident in how it pursues its objectives online and off.

Finally, in everything that it is doing, AVC intends to help build a movement towards more effective Canadian democracy in general, and is here for the long run as a source for advancing greater participation in democracy.

Has your question or concern not been addressed above?

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