The CAQ government on Wednesday introduced its electoral reform law, but backed away from its 2018 campaign promise to have it in place in time for the next general election.

Bill 39 was tabled in the National Assembly by Justice Minister Sonia Lebel, who is responsible for electoral reform. It proposes a mixed proportional representation system, which will have to be approved by Quebecers in a referendum once the law is passed.

“I think it’s more complex than I expected, honestly,” Francois Legault said at a news conference at the National Assembly, as he explained why the government is choosing to delay the process. “I’ve tried explaining that to some people not involved in politics and when I start talking about candidates, of lists per region, it’s quite complex,” the premier said.

The number of seats in the National Assembly would remain 125. The new electoral law would divide Quebec into 80 larger electoral divisions that will mainly be the same as federal ridings, and 17 wider regions:

  • 80 MNAs would be elected according to the current system
  • 45 MNAs on a list of candidates would be divided among the parties, according to the percentage of votes obtained in the 17 regions

The advantage according to Legault, is that instead of a winner-take-all system, certain regions that "had quite a few votes but not enough to get an MNA, will have one or some of the 45 that will come from the list, so you’ll have a mix between the actual way of electing people and the and in proportion of the vote for each party."

The CAQ says it will spend time over the next three years explaining the particulars of the plan to the public. For the October 2022 general election, voters will get two ballots: the regular one and one for the referendum.

Similar referenda have been held in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, but voters in those provinces chose to maintain the current system.