Justice and Public Safety
February 25, 2019

Government Delivers Promised All-Party Committee on Democratic Reform

Following unanimous support for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to establish an all-party committee on democratic reform, the Honourable Andrew Parsons, Government House Leader and Committee Chair, is taking the first steps in convening a committee to initiate real change.

The All-Party Committee will review democratic processes in Newfoundland and Labrador with the goal of improving democracy to better serve residents of the province. The committee will examine, study, and consult with the public as it reviews campaign finance laws and considers changes to financial reporting by political parties and district associations. The Terms of Reference allow the committee to identify and explore other issues deemed important by the public.

The All-Party Committee on Democratic Reform will consist of three Government Members of the House of Assembly, two members of the Official Opposition, one member of the Third Party, and the Chair. Information gathered by the committee will be used to develop recommendations that will be tabled in the House of Assembly.

Minister Parsons will be available to media today (Monday, February 25) in front of the House of Assembly, East Block, Confederation Building, at 12:15 p.m. The Terms of Reference can be found in the backgrounder below.

Quote
“It is important we have a fair, just and modern electoral system for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Based on lessons learned from democratic reform committees across the country, our committee will do its work on an issue-by-issue basis. We have heard from the public and stakeholders that campaign finance rules require change, so that will be our initial focus.”
Honourable Andrew Parsons
Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General

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Media contact
Lesley Clarke
Justice and Public Safety
709-729-6985, 699-2910
LesleyClarke@gov.nl.ca

BACKGROUNDER

Terms of Reference for the All-Party Committee on Democratic Reform

Mandate
The All-Party Committee on Democratic Reform was established as a result of government's commitment made in the Redbook 2015: A Stronger Tomorrow, Our Five Point Plan and as a result of the motion adopted by the House of Assembly on November 20, 2018. The All-Party Committee will review democratic processes in the province with the goal of improving democracy to better serve the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. The committee will consist of Honourable Members from all parties of the House of Assembly.

Purpose
The purpose of the All-Party Committee on Democratic Reform is to:

  1. Examine, study and consult with the public on ways to ensure fair and accountable financial practices for candidates and political parties in the province, including but not limited to:
    1. review of campaign finance laws and regulations in the province; and
    2. explore the feasibility and benefits of biennial financial reporting for provincial political parties and district associations
    and report its findings and recommendations to the House of Assembly as soon as possible.
  2. Determine in consultation with the public other matters and priorities related to democratic reform that may enhance democracy in the Province for residents in Newfoundland and Labrador, including but not limited to:
  1. methods for public engagement and participation in democracy;
  2. changing or broadening methods to vote;
  3. reducing barriers for participation in the democratic process by marginalized groups; and
  4. methods to increase public access and input in the House of Assembly
  5. and report its findings and recommendations to the House of Assembly.

Key Principles

  • Collaborative: All parties will follow generally accepted rules of collaborative work such as respect active listening, tolerance of differing views, etc.;
  • Consensus-seeking: Although consensus may not be possible on all points, best efforts will be made to reach consensus on as many key points as possible with the ultimate goal of presenting a consensus report;
  • Open and transparent: Feedback received throughout the consultation process will be made publicly available as soon possible after each session;
  • Accountable: The committee commits to respond to all major points made or ideas proposed by the participants, even if they disagree with or are not supportive of them;
  • Accurate and thorough: Best efforts will be made to capture the views of all those interested in the topic; analysis and summary efforts will strive to keep the “voice” of the presenters intact; and
  • Shared learning: All involved understand that these are complex issues and that there is always more to learn about it; they accept that they can learn from one another.

Membership
The membership of the All-Party Committee on Democratic Reform consists of:

  • Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Government House Leader, Chair;
  • 3 additional Government MHAs;
  • 2 Official Opposition MHA; and
  • 1 Third Party MHA.

Alternates for the above members may be designated as follows:

  • 1 Government MHA;
  • 1 Official Opposition MHA; and
  • 1 Third Party MHA.

Meetings
Business and debrief meetings will be scheduled every other week or at the call of the Chair.

Role of Chair
The chair will convene and manage committee meetings in accordance with the Terms of Reference and will facilitate requests made by committee members in collaboration with the secretariat.

Role of Secretariat
The secretariat will be housed in the Department of Justice and Public Safety and will ensure that the integrity of data generation is maintained, that logistical requirements of the Committee are in place, and that the Committee has access to relevant information and background materials.

Voting
Decisions are made by consensus. If consensus is not possible, majority voice voting is used with the minority view(s) documented.

Timeline & Committee Wrap-up
The committee will convene from the day of official announcement to when the report(s) and recommendation(s) are tabled in the House of Assembly. The Committee will dissolve upon the submission of its final report and recommendations in the House of Assembly.

Travel and Accommodations
Travel, accommodations and per diems will be reimbursed as per Government of Newfoundland and Labrador's travel policy.

2019 02 25                              10:30 a.m.