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By Chris Hannay (@channay)
First-past-the-post, alternative vote, instant runoff – what do all the options for electoral reform mean? Campbell Clark breaks down each system that the Liberals will examine over the next few months. We asked political scientists Paul Fairie to calculate what the results of last year's election might have been under different systems. He calculated that the Liberals could have won an extra 20 seats under a preferential ballot – where voters rank their choices – while opposition parties would have benefited under a system that awards seats proportionally to their popular vote.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN OTTAWA
> Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Fort McMurray today to survey the damage, then holds a news conference with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in the afternoon.
> The Liberals' assisted-dying bill could meet its match in a Senate that wants to show its independence. "We're not lined up like lead soldiers, you know, falling in place one after the other. There's a high level of independence in the Senate," Senate Liberal Serge Joyal said. The Supreme Court's deadline to pass the legislation is June 6.
> What does the government's signing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People mean? First Nations leaders say it gives them the "right to say no" to development on their lands, while Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says it is about "respect."
> Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion is rejecting an all-party call for a bill that punishes Russian human-rights violators, in the style of the Magnitsky Act in the United States. Not all Liberals agree with him. "The position of the party was clear during the election campaign. I certainly hope that this legislation does get passed during this coming parliamentary system," MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj said.
> Opposition MPs are not impressed with Sophie Grégoire Trudeau's request for more staff help. There is at least one precedent: Mila Mulroney had at least three staff members working for her at one point under Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government.
> The response rate for the census has so far been better than expected, but still a little slow, Statistics Canada says.
> Conrad Black is facing liens from the Canada Revenue Agency for $15-million in unpaid taxes.
> Inside a party for some of Canada's most prominent feminists and political activists.
> And the National Post's John Ivison reports on rumours of a plan by federal Conservatives to set up an Alberta branch that would unite the province's right.
WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail): "The Liberals won two votes out of every five cast. Is that a mandate [for electoral reform]? Ironically, only under the current voting system. Moreover, of those who voted Liberal, very few did so with electoral reform uppermost in their minds. The issue was peripheral to the campaign from start to finish." (for subscribers)
John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail): "Although the gesture [to sign the UN indigenous-rights declaration] is largely symbolic, it suggests that this government accepts the message that the Supreme Court has been sending to Liberal and Conservative governments for four decades with rulings that have strengthened the rights of native and other indigenous people. The relationship between Canada and its indigenous peoples, the courts are saying, should be a partnership. Justin Trudeau, it would seem, agrees." (for subscribers)
Gary Mason (Globe and Mail): "Whether we like it or not, the events of last week are now connected to an undeniable phenomenon: Record temperatures are being associated with record-setting fires that are wiping out vast tracts of important timberlands around the world. And the boreal forest that burst into flames and forced the evacuation of nearly 90,000 people from Fort McMurray while incinerating entire neighbourhoods is now among them."
Paul Wells (Maclean's): "So if a really big fire had forced the evacuation of Kelowna or Sudbury or Chicoutimi or Moncton [instead of Fort McMurray], well, sure, the country and the world would have stood transfixed. The combined resources of every government would have been brought to bear. But surely there would have been less edge to it, less of an overwhelming urge to turn the tale into some kind of parable."
Neil Macdonald (CBC): "The [official portrait] unveiling was largely ignored, as such echoes from the past often are. But a few words about that legacy: Paul Martin was decent and honest and he worked harder than just about everybody else."
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