yukon citizens’ assembly

The voice of a vibrant and diverse community.

Frequently Asked Questions  (FAQ)

Clicking on the questions below will reveal the associated answers.

What is a Citizens Assembly?

Citizens’ Assembly is a body of citizens who come together to deliberate on a given issue and provide a set of recommendations, options, or a collective decision to the convening body, which in this case is the Yukon Legislative Assembly. The rationale underpinning a Citizens’ Assembly is that a group of randomly selected citizens, when given the information, resources and time to deliberate on a given topic, can produce an informed public judgement.

What is the purpose of the Yukon Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform?

The Yukon Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform is a representative body of Yukoners established to recommend a model for electing Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. The Citizens’ Assembly will examine electoral systems and issue a report by October 31, 2024, recommending whether the current voting system should be retained, or another model should be adopted.

 

 

Why is this happening?

On May 26, 2021, the Special Committee on Electoral Reform was established by Order of the Legislative Assembly. The Committee consisted of MLAs, Kate White (chair), Brad Cathers (vice-chair) and the Hon. John Streicker. Following hearings with expert witnesses and community hearings throughout the Yukon, the Committee delivered itsfinal report on April 24, 2023. Commitee minutes, submissions, public hearings, information on options for Yukon’s electoral system, and final report can be found on the Special Committee on Electoral Reform webpage.

On April 25, 2023, the Yukon Legislative Assembly established the Special Committee on the Yukon Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. The Committee consisted of MLAs, Kate White (chair), Currie Dixon, and the Hon. John Streicker. This committee’s report was presented to the Legislative Assembly on October 31, 2023, recommending the terms of reference for the Yukon Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. Commitee minutes and final report can be found on the Special Committee on the Yukon Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform webpage.

Is this about changing the boundaries of Yukon’s 19 electoral districts?

No. That is a separate process handled by the Electoral District Boundaries Commission with Elections Yukon. They are seeking feedback from Yukoners until March 28, 2024.
Visit their website for more information.

Who is in charge of the Yukon Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform?

Sara McPhee-Knowles has been appointed Chair of the Yukon Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. Sara McPhee-Knowles has a PhD in Philosophy specializing in Public Policy from the University of Saskatchewan. She has been seconded from her position as an Assistant Professor from the School of Business and Leadership at Yukon University. She is also an Adjunct Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan. As Chair, Dr. McPhee-Knowles has administrative responsibility for the Citizens’ Assembly and is not a voting member. Her duties include supervising the selection process for the membership of the Citizens’ Assembly. (See detailed position description)

Who will be part of the Yukon Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform?

Membership of the Citizen’s Assembly will consist of up to two individuals from each of the 19 electoral districts in the Yukon.

How will Assembly members be selected?

As per the Yukon Citizens’ Assembly’s terms of reference, members will be “selected randomly from the 1,793 respondents who declared their willingness to participate on the YCA in the census of all Yukon residents aged 16 years and over conducted by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics from January 12 to March 5, 2023.”

Will there be representatives from each age group, gender, ethnicity, region, and community, including First Nations representation in proportion to the population?

The Yukon Bureau of Statistics will be completing the random selection from the pool of respondents. Their representation model covers age, gender, and Indigenous ancestry. Per the terms of reference, there will be up to two members from each of the electoral districts, which allows for broad geographic representation. One alternate member per electoral district will be identified in case of attrition from the YCA.

How often will the Assembly meet?

The draft program is being developed. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) best practices for deliberative processes recommend a minimum of four in person meeting days; we are planning eight in-person meeting days. Citizens’ assemblies are learning processes that lead to deliberation, and the program is being developed with this in mind.

Where will the assembly meet and are meetings open to the public?

Meeting locations are not yet determined. The learning sessions will be open to the public, and the schedule of those sessions will be posted online once finalized.

What is the anticipated timeline?
April Citizens’ Assembly members selected
May-Sept Citizens’ Assembly meets for a total of eight days
Sept-Oct Citizens’ Assembly deliberates and prepares final report
Oct 31 Final report delivered to Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly
What will take place at the CA meetings?

At each of the four planned two-day meetings, there will be learning sessions for members to absorb information on the types of voting systems in use in democracies around the globe, and deliberative sessions for members to discuss what they have learned. The learning sessions will be open to the public. The deliberative sessions will be for Assembly members only.

Will there be public hearings?

A final decision is yet to be made but given the broad scope of public hearings already conducted by the Special Committee on Electoral Reform and the time constraints placed on the YCA, it is unlikely. There will be a process for members of the public to make submissions to the YCA either by video or in writing, and all submissions will be made public.

Will the Assembly hear from non-partisan local and Canada-wide experts on different voting systems to understand them and make a recommendation?

The draft program is under development. Assembly members will have access to all the information compiled by the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, which consulted extensively with experts from across Canada and internationally.

Will this be a non-partisan, independent process?

The Yukon Citizens’ Assembly is independent and arms-length from government. We are guided by best practices for deliberative processes from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and from Citizens’ Assembly processes that have occurred in BC and Ontario.

To ensure our independence and a fair and transparent process, we are setting up an advisory and oversight committee. This committee will be responsible for providing advice to the Chair and Deputy Chair, reviewing the program to ensure that the breadth of experts is sufficient, and to provide a dispute resolution mechanism if necessary.

I have information pertinent to this topic and discussion, how do I share it with the Citizens’ Assembly?

If you have additional information that you would like to share with us, please uise the Contact Form on this website to get in touch.

 

 

How will the CA make a final recommendation?

As per the Yukon Citizens’ Assembly terms of reference, “Decisions of the YCA shall be made by a majority of members present, although consensus is encouraged as a goal. The YCA’s decision on voting systems must reflect the importance of balance for rural and urban representation. The YCA’s recommended model must be consistent with both the Constitution of Canada and the Canadian parliamentary system. If the YCA recommends adopting a model that is different from the current model, it must recommend only one such model and provide a detailed description and explanation of the proposed new electoral system in its final report.

What is the anticipated outcome?

At the conclusion of its learning and deliberations on electoral systems, the Citizens’ Assembly will issue a report by October 31, 2024, recommending whether the current voting system should be retained, or another model should be adopted.

If the recommendation is for an alternate electoral system, the Legislature will determine next steps, including whether a public vote will take place so Yukoners can decide on adopting a new voting system or retaining the current model.

Is there a role for the assembly after their final report and recommendations?

The Citizens’ Assembly has a finite timeline. After the Assembly has tabled its final report and recommendation, it will be dissolved.

 

 

When will a referendum be called?

This decision is  not within the mandate or purview of the Citizens’ Assembly. The Legislature will determine next steps.

How can I stay informed on the progress of the assembly?

yukoncitizensassembly.ca is the best source for news and updates on the Citizen’s Assembly. It will include all the materials that are given to the Citizens’ Assembly members. We will also communicate regularly with the Yukon public via local media.