Is Quebec ready to adopt an electoral system that fairly represents women?
by Jackie F. Steele & Emmanuelle Hébert
In December 2005, Quebec became the first province to formally introduce a bill to change the electoral system when the Liberal government tabled its Avant-projet de loi sur la Loi électorale – its draft bill on electoral reform. Subsequently, a Special Parliamentary Commission on Reform of the Voting System, joined by a gender-balanced eight-person Citizens’ Committee, heard from individuals, groups and communities in various regions, attracting the largest participation of any public consultation in the history of Quebec. In the spring of 2006, the Citizens’ Committee and the Parliamentary Commission presented their divergent conclusions, and the minister in charge of electoral reform is expected to table his revised bill this fall.
The new prominence of electoral reform on Quebec’s political agenda in the last few years presents a historic window of opportunity to enhance the inclusion of women within democratic institutions. In an effort to seize this window of opportunity, the Collectif Féminisme et Démocratie (CFD) was created in 2002 as a strategic site of reflection on women’s citizenship and electoral system design. Its main objective has been to bring feminist perspectives on democracy to the core of the public debate on political representation and democratic reform. The CFD’s vision of an inclusive, diverse and vibrant democracy is grounded in the experiences of its members in dialogue with the wider Quebec feminist movement. Its membership includes feminist