FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has announced the names of the five members of the commission on electoral reform who will be tasked with submitting recommendations for improving the electoral system in New Brunswick.

The individuals are Carolyn MacKay, Bev Harrison, Gaétane Johnson, Jason Alcorn and Constantine Passaris.

“These individuals were chosen for their high levels of experience and exceptional qualifications,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau, who is also deputy house leader. “I congratulate them on being selected and look forward to seeing their recommendations for improving our democracy.”

The members were chosen following a process that allowed any member of the public to express their interest in serving. They will be given the following mandate:

  • Assess commitments made by the provincial government in 2014 to contribute to making a more effective legislature by eliminating barriers to entering politics for underrepresented groups; and investigating means to improve participation in democracy, such as preferential ballots and online voting.
  • Assess other electoral reform matters that have been raised recently including changing the voting age, political contribution rules and political spending rules.

“Yesterday, the State of Maine voted in favour of the preferential ballot and the day before Prince Edward Island voted for electoral reform using the preferential ballot,” said Boudreau. “This is an evolutionary system worthy of consideration.”

Boudreau also noted that the non-binding Prince Edward Island plebiscite offered the option of online voting and allowed votes from 16 and 17-year-olds, which are also options being considered by the commission.

The public has been encouraged to participate in the process by reading the discussion paper Strengthening New Brunswick’s Democracy and submitting comments. The information received will be compiled and analyzed by the commission. Recommendations will be submitted to the clerk of the Executive Council by March 1, 2017.

Following are the biographies of the commission members:

Carolyn MacKay

A career civil servant with the provincial government, MacKay held a number of senior positions over the course of her 37-year career. In 2007, she was named deputy minister, a post she held until she retired in February 2014. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of New Brunswick.

Bev Harrison

Harrison was first elected as a member of the legislative assembly in 1978. He was re-elected four times, including terms in 2006 and 2010 as the MLA for the riding of Hampton-Kings. A former high school teacher and principal, he held different positions including minister of supply and services, government house leader and speaker of the legislative assembly. He also served on various standing committees.

Gaétane Johnson

Johnson was elected as a councillor for the Village of Rogersville in May 2015. The 18-year-old, who is studying psychology at Université de Moncton, has received various honours over the course of her studies, including the Governor General’s Academic Medal and the Roméo-LeBlanc Excellence Scholarship.

Jason Alcorn

Alcorn joined the Financial and Consumer Services Commission in May 2006, where he works as senior legal counsel within the securities division. He holds a bachelor of laws from Université de Moncton, a master’s degree in International Affairs from Institut d’études politiques de Paris and a bachelor of arts in political science from University of New Brunswick, Saint John campus. He is a former student of the prestigious École nationale d’administration in France.

Constantine Passaris

An economics professor at the University of New Brunswick, Passaris has extensive experience in the private and public sectors. Along with experience in teaching, research and administration at the university level, Passaris has worked in banking in the private sector and served as a policy consultant for the federal government and several provincial governments. Along with his role at the university, Passaris is an Onassis Foundation Fellow, a research affiliate of the Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy at the University of Lethbridge, an affiliate professor of the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University and a member of the Academic Scientific Board of the International Institute of Advanced Economic and Social Studies.