“We aim to work together to change the political system, which is broken and does not provide equal representation for all people in Newfoundland and Labrador”
NL Alliance was founded to help bring the necessary changes to restore confidence in the democratic process in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The House of Assembly (HOA) is made up of forty members represented by Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democrats, and Independents. For the past 70 years we have operated under a system whereby the party winning the largest number of districts on election day either gets to govern with a majority or minority mandate. Citizens of this province are under the impression that their elected candidate has a voice and is working with government. For the majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians this does not happen. NL Alliance is working to change this practice.
Currently, the sitting Premier and 14 members, chosen by the Premier, form cabinet and are the decision makers who govern this province. The remaining 26 elected members are either ‘backbenchers’, official opposition members, members of the third party and independents. ‘Backbenchers’ (sitting MHAs on government side of the HOA), in many cases, are often given scripts on how to respond when asked questions. MHAs from other parties, are often not included in any conversations or decision making. Their voices, and more importantly the voice of their constituents, are silenced. Under an NL Alliance administration, all 40 elected MHAs will matter.
NL Alliance respects the concerns and rights of all people. With every right, there is a responsibility. We acknowledge and recognize the rights of all, and hold one another responsible to ensure we can live with the decisions that are made. This can only happen when we have conversations, no matter how difficult they may be. Throughout the province we are hearing, “...all we want is for someone to listen to us,” “...for government to recognize us as a people,” “...for government not to make decisions that affect us without first consulting with us” and “...our current way of government is not working for the people.” NL Alliance commits to engaging people throughout the province in conversations on issues that affect us all.
The current political environment within the HOA does not foster collaboration across the party lines. Only through true collaboration among all elected officials can we achieve the best outcomes for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. NL Alliance will promote collaboration and debate on legislation brought to the HOA. NL Alliance believes all elected members must be able to express the concerns and needs of their constituents, free from reprisal. When a vote is needed to pass legislation, all members will be given the opportunity to vote with their convictions and for the people they represent. The work of government should be about service and accountability to the people - not adherence to a party line, patronage, cabinet or personal power.
Currently when a member who is not in government puts forth a motion, the governing party instructs their members to vote down the proposed motion. For instance, a member of the official opposition recently brought forward a private members resolution calling for government to, “Bring forward legislation to require every privately held numbered company operating in the province that does business with the provincial government to disclose the identities of significant shareholders in that company.” Ultimately, the Liberals voted down the private members resolutions, with the Tories, NDP and Independent supporting making shareholders of private companies public knowledge. A more recent example occurred during the week of March 4, 2019 when a member of the NDP presented a private members motion urging Government to immediately strike an all-party select committee on rate mitigation and the future of muskrat falls. The motion read, “Be it resolved that the House of Assembly urge government to immediately strike an All-Party Select Committee to work in an open, transparent and collaborative manner on behalf of the people to identify all possible solutions for rate mitigation and the future of Muskrat Falls.” Once again the majority government, the Liberals, voted and defeated the motion. These two examples demonstrate the lack of true collaboration amongst our elected officials.
NL Alliance is working to restore confidence in government. When you elect a person to represent you, you need to know they will have a voice regardless of political association. Together all elected members must have the opportunity to make the best decisions that will benefit all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The current party system does not allow for this.
NL Alliance will introduce true electoral/ political reform for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have heard from the people of the province. We look forward to leading the process of electoral and political reform for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We believe these changes will strengthen democracy, ensure participation by all elected officials, and restore the people’s confidence in Government.
NL Alliance is proposing changes in the operations of the HOA and the election of Premier and MHAs. We envision a group of elected officials in the HOA representing their constituents and the province as a whole, not an allegiance to any political party. Elections NL, a nonpartisan arm of government, would have a greater role in the selection of candidates, and the premier through a comprehensive set of guidelines.
From day one NL Alliance has engaged in conversations to initiate political reform. We believe this proposal is a good starting point to begin this conversation. Committee members will engage in discussions through a collaborative and respectful dialogue, with the aim of bringing about the needed changes within our political structure. Any proposed change to the current structure will be presented to the people of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, followed by a province wide referendum.
Proposal for Election of MHAs
Individuals may come forward in a district election (either general or by-election) and offer themselves as a candidate, as long as they fall within the legal requirements to be a candidate in the province. (Elections NL Act)
Candidates do not have to be from, or residing in, the district they are seeking election.
Candidates will be independent as recognized by Elections NL regardless of political affiliation.
When candidates apply to Elections NL, they would follow the guidelines as set by Elections NL. Any number of candidates may run in a district. Election is held and polling stations are set up throughout each district, as is now.
All candidates will be listed on ballots. Voters will fill out their ballot using a ‘ranked ballot’ system, marking a ‘1’ next to the candidate they prefer, ‘2’ next to the candidate they prefer next, ‘3’ on candidate they prefer next, etc.
Ballots are counted starting with the number of ‘1’s’ each candidates receives. Those results are fed centrally and reported (see below). Once all the ‘1’s’ have been counted, if no one candidate has garnered more than 50% of the votes cast, the candidate with the least amount of the votes drops off; that candidate’s ‘2’s’ are counted, and those votes are distributed among the remaining candidates. This process is repeated until a candidate receives 50% of the votes cast district wide.
To facilitate this, polling stations will be set up in areas with reliable communications. A ‘central office’ will be set up in each district, independent of any polling station, to collect district wide results and to report back to the polling stations what the next step should be.
Each candidate is allowed to have their own scrutineer present to witness the count at each polling station, if requested, as is the current practice.
Once a candidate is elected with more than 50% of the vote in their district, they become the elected MHA. The HOA will have 40 elected officials working on behalf of their constituents and the province as a whole.
All 40 elected members will choose the house speaker and the cabinet through nomination and secret ballot. (Cabinet will not be appointed by the Premier)
Proposal for Election of Premier
In other jurisdictions that operate under a similar electoral system, the Premier is elected by the legislature. However, NL Alliance is proposing that the people of the province elect their premier using a district weighted voting system, whereby each district has an equal voice.
NL Alliance looks forward to engaging in a collaborative process with all elected officials, and the people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, to bring the needed change to our political structure.