Canada tweaks electoral system to allow expats to vote

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OTTAWA: Canada’s Liberal government introduced a bill on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to increase voter eligibility, including rolling back a measure that excluded more than one million expatriates from voting in 2015. Maryam Monsef, the minister for democratic institutions, told a news conference the reforms will “break down unnecessary barriers to voting, while enhancing the efficiency and integrity of our elections.” The measures do not, however, go as far as the Liberals pledged during the last campaign to revamp the way Canadians vote, by dropping the current first-past-the-post system in favor of a more representational model. Those efforts have been met with significant pushback from the opposition that has called for a referendum on proposals, while in polls Canadians showed little appetite for such a drastic change. Monsef said she hopes to introduce that legislation in the first half of 2017, while renewing her opposition to holding a referendum. “I don’t believe that a referendum is the best way to go about having a really complex conversation about an important public policy issue like electoral reform,” she commented.

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