Liberal Convention 2012: Party Votes In Favour Of Preferential Ballots

Liberal Convention 2012 Ottawa Preferential Ballot

First Posted: 01/15/12 03:59 PM ET Updated: 01/15/12 05:25 PM ET

Canadians may be one step closer to electing their MPs through a ranking system which would allow voters to select who they perceive to be the least worst option.

On Sunday, federal Liberal delegates voted 73 per cent in favour of implementing preferential ballots for all future national elections.

Under the new system, voters would rank their riding candidates in order of their relative preference, for example, their first choice, second choice, third and so on.

The new formula would help ensure that candidates have to go out and get support of people that might not otherwise vote for them, Liberal MP Justin Trudeau told delegates at the Liberals' biennial convention in Ottawa.

"Will it help us? Me, I am a fairly polarizing figure, it might actually harm me in my own riding, but I think it is a good thing for Canada that we move towards this," he said.

A delegate from Oakville said there was no evidence to back the suggestion that a preferential ballot would be beneficial.

"We need to look at other electoral voting systems like proportional voting system, this resolution does not allow for this," she said, adding she was concerned this it would stop efforts to adopt proportional voting in their tracks.

The resolution won't fix every problem, former Liberal leader Stephane Dion acknowledged.

"It's not perfect. But I think it will improve something very important in our country. We want to have a more civilized debate in politics and then if you have the possibility, if you want and you want to convey the voters of other parties that you are an acceptable choice for them don't come with ugly attack ads against them," Dion said, to cheers from the crowd.

"This is the reason why I implore you to vote for this resolution, even to the ones of you that would like to have something more, this is a step in the right direction," Dion said.

Dion and former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff suffered through months of negative attack ads from the Conservative Party of Canada which helped contribute to their unpopularity.

The voting method now preferred by the Liberals would also help ensure that the political party that forms government enjoys wider public support. The Conservative Party won a majority government with 39.6 per cent of the vote last May .

If the Liberals want to stop the Conservatives, one delegate suggested, voters could rank them last.

"Put them behind the communists, put them behind the marijuana party, put them behind whoever you want, rank them last and punish them," he said, to applause.

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